Memorable Manitobans: John Carl Ridd (1929-2003)
Born at Winnipeg on 17 August 1929, son of Dwight Nugent Ridd and Isa May Hearn (1896-1968), he attended Laura Secord School and schools in Fort William [now Thunder Bay], Ontario. He received degrees from the University of Manitoba, United College (now University of Winnipeg), and Drew University (Madison, New Jersey) from which he earned a PhD in Religion and Literature. He was ordained by the United Church of Canada in 1958 and served the Emerson - Dominion City charge from 1958 to 1963, and Eastside Methodist Church in Paterson, New Jersey (1964 to 1966). Returning to Winnipeg in 1966 he built the Religious Studies Department at the University of Winnipeg, teaching there for twenty-nine years.
In 1973 he was given the Robson Award for Excellence in Teaching and in 1989 he won the Clarence Atchison Award for Excellence in Community Service. Carl loved all sports and excelled at most he tried but his great love was basketball. Known as King Carl, he was a member of the Canadian Olympic Basketball Team in Helsinki in 1952 and a member of the Canadian team at the World Basketball Tournament in Rio de Janeiro in 1954, where he was selected to the Second All-Star team. He was elected to the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 and to the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.
He was an activist for many issues such as human rights, including gay and lesbian rights, economic and social justice, ecological concerns, Muslim-Christian dialogue, and the well-being of the inner-city. Carl was one of the founders of Project Peacemakers, a local peace and justice organization. He was a frequent commentator on US militarism and nuclear weapons disarmament. He was one of the first Canadians to become involved with the people of Central America and their struggle against oppression. Carls concern for our planet was reflected in his participation on the Manitoba Environmental Council (1980 to 1985), chairing of the Manitoba Energy Council (1983 to 1988), and authoring parts of the submission of the United Church of Canada to the panel reviewing Nuclear Waste Management and Disposal in Canada. He was a member of two forest management committees in Northwestern Ontario.
He became in his own words a pretty good amateur economist leading him to become one of the editors of The Eyeopener, a four-page quarterly for ordinary people, addressing economics, ecology and community. He was a prolific writer, authoring over 400 articles and addresses in the fields of literature, culture, religion, social and political life, athletics and ethics. Many friends and family were the lucky recipients of poetry written for them on special occasions. Carl was an avid supporter of the arts community, including music, theatre, and the spoken and written word. In music, his particular love was the flute, which he played in his youth.
He died at Winnipeg on 29 March 2003. In 2004, he was posthumously inducted into the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame.
“Secord School to celebrate golden year,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 November 1962, page 14.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 3 April 2003.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 29 December 2022