John Carl Ridd was a tower of strength, on and off the court. As a graduate of Gordon Bell High School and Westminister Church basketball, he went on to become one of the most outstanding basketball players in Manitoba history. In the four years (1947 – 1951) Ridd played for the University of Manitoba, he was the leading scorer in North America College Basketball (averaging 25 points a game). He played on the Canadian basketball team in the Helsinki Olympics of 1952 and at the Worlds’s in Rio de Janeior in 1954. He was the first and only Canadian to be named to an All-World All-Star tem (2nd team all-star). This same year he led the Winnipeg “Paulins” to the Canadian championship. In 1952 and 1953, Ridd turned down pro contracts from the NBA Milwaukee Hawks to pursue academic studies and a life of service to church, community, and the cause of justice and peace.
In the early 1960s, the Manitoba Basketball Coaches’ Association inaugurated the “Carl Ridd Award”, presented annually to a graduating high school male and female student who emulates Ridd’s excellent performance on the basketball court and in the classroom. He is an honoured member of the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Basketball of Fame.
Even more impressive than his amazing athletic prowess was his life long dedication to community and speaking up for what he felt was important. Rev. Dr. John Carl Ridd (PhD in Theology) was a scholar and academic who produced over 400 articles and addresses, and two full television series of five hours each. He also worked as a minister of the United Church of Canada. His social activism and fight for justice was well known by most Winnipeggers on issues involving the environment, peace, religion and even sports such as the struggle over losing the Winnipeg Jets.
In 1983, Carl Ridd, with a handful of other people, started Project Peacemakers, and since that time, he was active in yearly peace walks, leading peace worship services, writing many articles and letters to politicians, sending letters to the editor and participating on talk shows, panels and commissions. There were many community causes he got involved in such as nuclear disarmament and waste management, human rights, rights of minority groups, and various environmental issues such as saving our forests.
Ridd still found time to devote many hours of volunteer work as a basket ball coach in Rossbrook House after his earlier years where he coached and helped develop university teams. To this end, he received the 1999 “Kateri Award” for Volunteer of the Year. It is sponsored by Rossbrook House.
Finally, his teaching at the University of Winnipeg was widely recognized as second to none and inspirational to the countless students he taught over many years. Ridd received the University of Winnipeg’s 1973 Robson Award for Excellence in teaching (the third person to receive it) and was given the Atchison Award for Community Service in 1989, and a fellowship in United College in 1997.