Title: John Carl Ridd Personal Papers
Dates: 1950 – 2004
Extent: 16.1 m textual records and other material in 46 boxes
Repository: The United Church of Canada Archives Manitoba Northwestern Ontario Conference and All Native Circle Conference
Retrieval Numbers: ID # 3271
(See John Carl Ridd Personal Papers for the full Finding Aid)
John Carl Ridd was born on August 17, 1929 to Dwight Ridd and Isa (Hearn) Ridd. Apart from a brief stint in Fort William, Ontario during his father’s army career, Ridd grew up and attended school in Winnipeg. In high school Ridd was President of the Student Council, played the flute and was involved with sports – especially basketball (see below). In 1946 – 1947 Ridd participated in Winnipeg’s first Eaton’s Junior Executive Council.
In 1950 Ridd graduated from United College, Winnipeg, with a Bachelor of Arts degree (during this degree Ridd was one-time class president and class valedictorian, editor of the Manitoban’s sports page, played basketball and was a member of the university symphony). In 1951 Ridd received his Diploma in Education from the University of Manitoba. Upon graduating, he became employed by Great-West Life Assurance Co. in Winnipeg. In 1952 Ridd married Beverley Tozer; the following year their first child, Laurel, was born.
In 1955 Ridd, having returned to university, graduated with a Master of Arts degree in English. That same year he enrolled as a Theology student at United College, graduating in 1958. During his theological studies, the Ridds’ second child – Brian – was born.
Upon completing his theological studies, Ridd was ordained as a Untied Church minister and was settled in the Emerson – Dominion City pastoral charge in southern Manitoba. Ridd served here until 1963; during this period of ministry, the Ridds’ third child – Karen – was born.
In the fall of 1963, the family moved to New Jersey so that Ridd could pursue a Ph.D. in literature and religion at Drew University. During his second and third years at Drew, Ridd served as minister for Eastside Terrace Methodist Church in Paterson. Following the completion of the course work and comprehensive examinations for his Ph.D. (the dissertation was completed, and the degree awarded, in 1977) the family moved back to Winnipeg, where Ridd founded the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Winnipeg – and served as a professor therein – in 1966. Although Ridd initially also taught English and Theology courses, most of his teaching career was spent in the Religious Studies department. For a number of years, Ridd served as the departmental chair. Ridd also served the University as the President of the Faculty Association. Ridd was the recipient of the University of Winnipeg’s Clifford J. Robson Award for Excellence in Teaching (1980) and the Clarence Atchison Award for Community Service (1983). In 1995, Ridd retired to become a “full-time citizen.” At the time of his retirement a “Carl Ridd Scholarship in the Humanities” was established at the University of Winnipeg for a student with high marks and a strong commitment to community service. Furthermore, the chapel at the University was renamed “Carl Ridd Sanctuary” in 2008 and the University established the Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy as a part of its Global College.
The designation of “citizen” was – for Ridd – a serious responsibility. Beginning in the early stages of his teaching career, he became increasingly active and vocal in relation to social justice issues on local, national and international scales. Ridd’s social activism showed particular interest in Winnipeg’s inner city, the Winnipeg Jets, Canadian foreign policy, homosexual rights, the state of the environment and political changes in Central America. Throughout his adult life Ridd participated in a number of United Church committees that focussed on social justice or civic issues, as well as the Manitoba Energy Council, the Thin Ice coalition and the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association. Additionally, Ridd was a founding member of Project Peacemakers and “Reaching Out for Central America.”
Ridd was a basketball enthusiast, and through his abilities and interest in the sport he earned many honours. His basketball career began in the early 1940s when he played at Westminster United Church. As a student at Gordon Bell High School Ridd helped the Gordon Bell Panthers reach the High School Basketball Championships 1945 – 1947. In 1952 Ridd went to the Helsinki Olympics as a member of the Canadian Olympic basketball team and, in 1954, participated in the World Basketball Tournament in Rio de Janeiro where he was named to the second all-star team (the first Canadian to be named to the team). Also in 1954 Ridd, as a member of the Winnipeg Paulins, won the Canadian Senior Basketball Championship. Ridd’s other basketball accolades included an invitation to play professionally for the Milwaukie Hawks (the first Manitoban to be offered an NBA contract), being ranked the fourth highest scorer in North American college basketball 1949 – 1950, leading the Winnipeg Senior Men’s League in scoring on numerous occasions and being named to the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame, the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame (their first inductee) and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. Later in life Ridd would continue to enjoy the sport as a spectator, a supporter and as a coach of a Winnipeg inner city youth team. Moreover, the concept of “playing” would remain an important lens through which Ridd viewed life. Since 1970 the Manitoba Basketball Coaches Association has presented the “Carl Ridd Award” to one male and one female graduating player who excel on the court and in the classroom and who are heavily involved in the community.
On March 29, 2003 Ridd passed away after a month-long battle with leukemia.
The collection was gathered and largely organized by Carl Ridd. Following his death his wife Bev Ridd imposed some additional order on the collection before donating it to the United Church Archives.
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains records pertaining to – and generated by – Ridd’s activities as a social activist, a United Church minister in Manitoba and an academic (first as a student and later as a professor) at United College (Winnipeg), Drew University and the University of Winnipeg. The records in this collection illuminate Ridd’s life from the beginning of his post-secondary education (the early 1950s) through to his death (2003). These records take on a number of physical forms, most frequently including newspaper clippings, magazine and journal articles, photocopied excerpts from books, briefs and reports, correspondence, sermons, course lecture outlines, course handouts, class notes and assignments.
Relating to Ridd’ activities as an academic, the collection contains records from courses Ridd took as a student of English and Theology in Manitoba in the 1950s, as well as Ridd’s years spent as a doctoral candidate at Drew University. The collection also contains a large number of records originating from or utilized in the numerous Religious Studies courses taught by Ridd as a professor at United College and the University of Winnipeg. Records pertaining to Ridd’s research interests – various 19th and 20th century authors, the history of “western” consciousness and thought, religion and ethics – as well as records pertaining to the purpose and function of a university are found in the collection.
Relating to Ridd’s activities as a United Church adherent and minister, the collection contains records generated by Ridd as a minister at Emerson – Dominion City pastoral charge in Manitoba in the late 1950s and early 1960s as well as at Eastside Terrace Methodist Church in Paterson, New Jersey in the mid-1960s. Ridd’s sermons and the historical development of the United Church’s presence in Emerson – Dominion City charge are particularly pertinent to these ministerial arrangements. A large number of documents generated by Ridd’s presence on numerous United Church committees (meeting in Winnipeg) throughout his adult life are also present in the collection. These records focus particularly on the relationship of the church to social, cultural and civic issues at the local, national and international level.
Relating to Ridd’s activities as a social justice activist, the collection contains a very large group of records collected or generated by Ridd as he monitored – and attempted to intervene in – various issues. The following areas are most numerously represented in the collection: human rights violations in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala; American foreign policy and perceived imperialist tendency (especially in Central America and the Gulf); media critiques and propaganda; the cost of living in Winnipeg (including housing costs and taxation); Canadian federal and provincial government spending and budgets; Canadian social assistance (including the “safety net” of pension, healthcare and Child and Family Services) and unemployment in Canada; the Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement; energy developments (especially nuclear energy) and the state of the environment; abortion, feminism and homosexuality in Christian perspectives; the Canadian economy and economic injustice; peace and conflict (particularly the Middle East); the Winnipeg Jets and the Thin Ice coalition; education (including teaching liberal arts, the purpose of education and religious education in schools); treatment of First Nations groups in Canada and the role of the Church in civic and social issues.
The majority of the records in this collection were not originated by Ridd. Rather, the collection is comprised largely of documents collected by Ridd. These documents – frequently – have been annotated or interacted with by Ridd and, in many cases, indicate the nature of Ridd’s interests and opinions. Documents in the collection originated by Ridd frequently draw on or make reference to the material contained in his collected records. Thus each series in the collection contains three types of indications of Ridd’s concerns: 1) records collected from various sources by Ridd, 2) Ridd’s annotations or markings on the collected records, and 3) documents originated by Ridd himself.
A stress on interrelationship is also apparent in the collection. Ridd’s work in one area of his life frequently appears to have overlapped with his interests in another area. As a result, identical records sometimes appear at multiple locations within the collection (a magazine article pertaining to a certain social issue could, for example, also be found as an inspiration for a sermon or as a class handout for a university course).
In addition to textual records, the collection also contains 67 photographs (color and black-and-white), eight negatives, a medallion (pertaining to army chaplaincy), 19 books, one academic journal, one t-shirt, 13 audio cassettes (recorded informally), three audio reels, one film reel, eight video cassettes (recorded informally), 8 boxes of slides, and one piece of artwork.
Series and folder-level descriptions for the collection are available from the Archives, and available here is Carl Ridd Personal Paper Archives Inventory. Box lists for the audio-visual material and artefacts (books, etc.) are available. A “key” created by Ridd for the contents of Box 1 is also available (located in the box).
Effort was made to preserve Ridd’s original folder titles. Folder titles that appear in bold typeface in the collection’s Archives Inventory indicate that Ridd’s original folder title has been retained – folder titles that appear in normal typeface denote titles created or adapted during processing of the collection.
Restrictions on Access
Some restrictions apply. In the Archives Inventory, folders containing records with restrictions on access have been marked with an “R” in the “R?” column. For specific information regarding the types of records within each folder with restrictions on access, please consult the appropriate folder-level description.
A small number of records originated by Carl Ridd can be found in the Bill Blaikie Fonds held at this repository. A tape recording of “Carl Ridd El Salvador” was transferred to the archives in 2012. Four boxes of Ridd family photographs, correspondence and memorabilia depicting Ridd’s family history and ancestors arrived at the archives as Accession 2012-28.
Related material in other repositories
One copy of Ridd’s doctoral dissertation The Image of Man in Albert Camus can be found at the University of Winnipeg Library (main stacks). Brenda Suderman’s MA thesis (2013) “Called to be a Citizen: the Activist Life of Carl Ridd” is also available through the University of Winnipeg library. See The Activist Life of Carl Ridd, a summary and reflection on Suderman’s work.
Accruals: Further accruals may be forthcoming.
#1 Conflict, Violence and War (48 folders total)
- 1a Afghanistan and Iraq (14 folders)
- 1b Israel – Palestine (9 folders)
#2 Canadian Politics (Federal and Provincial) (38 folders total)
#3 Economic Issues (39 folders total)
- 3a Free trade (11 folders)
#4 Energy and Environmental Issues (39 folders total)
- 4a Nuclear Energy and Waste (22 folders)
#5 Miscellaneous Material (28 folders total)
- 5a Carl Ridd Reference documents (10 folders total)
#6 Carl Ridd Addresses, Appearances, Engagements and Publications (19 folders total)
#7 Media and Propaganda (7 folders total)
#8 Sports (7 folders total)
#9 National and Civic Social Justice Issues in Canada (89 folders total
- 9a Jets/Arena (21 folders)
- 9b Sexuality and Gender Issues (6 folders total)
- 9c Reflection, Action, Reflection Group (11 folders total)
#10 Sermons, Theology and United Church Material (60 folders total)
- 10a Sermons and Ridd’s Ministerial Records (24 folders)
- 10b United Church Materials (19 folders)
- 10c Theological Matters (18 folders)
#11 Course Material and University Records (201 folders total)
- 11a Carl Ridd as Professor (120 folders)
- 11b Carl Ridd as Student (54 folders)
- 11c Academic and Scholarly Matters (27 folders)
#12 International Social Justice Issues (102 folders total)
- 12a Central America (74 folders)
- 12b Christine Lamont and David Spencer case (12 folders)
#13 Literature and Authors (78 folders total)
#14 Disparate Records (13 folders)