Clair was born in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, and received his Diploma of Optometry in 1948 from the Ontario College of Optometry in Toronto, the predecessor to the School. During his first year of private practice, Clair began sharing his methodical, analytical approach to clinical practice with the students at the College.
Dr. Emerson Woodruff was a widely known and highly respected Canadian optometrist, educator and scientist before his recent passing in 2005. After practicing optometry in southern Ontario from 1950 to 1962, Emerson left private practice to teach and pursue a PhD degree in physiological optics at Indiana University. He joined the faculty of the School of Optometry in 1967.