Homage to Hall of Fame inductee

The bust of 2004 Citizens Hall of Fame inductee Carl Ridd was installed in Assiniboine Park earlier this week.  Carl Ridd, another outstanding citizen who was recognized for his great contributions to Winnipeg’s quality of life, was inducted into the Citizens Hall of Fame in 2004 for his life-long dedication to the community. He was an activist on issues he felt were important such as peace, justice and the environment. 

The plaque reads as follows:

“Rev. Dr. J. Carl Ridd, M.A., B.D., Ph.D. Inducted in 2004. Community service, peace activist, teacher, writer, athlete. Professor of Religious Studies. United College/University of Winnipeg (1966 -1985). Sculptor: Josef Randa.” 

John Carl Ridd, a posthumous inductee, was a world-class basketball player and is an honoured member of the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame. 

In the early 1960s, the Manitoba Basketball Coaches’ Association inaugurated the Carl Ridd Award. It is 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.  

Ridd received the University of Winnipeg’s 1973 Robson Award for excellence in teaching (the third person to ever receive it) and was given the Atchison Award for Community Service in 1989. 

The sculptor of the bust, Josef Randa, is acknowledged as one of Manitoba’s most outstanding artists. His sculpture of Ridd is the last piece of work he created before passing away from cancer in 2005. This talented artist made an immense contribution to the Citizens Hall of Fame program by not only sculpting the busts of inductees Arnold Spohr, George Campbell MacLean, Ben Hatskin, Dr. George Johnson, Vince Leah and William Gomez Fonseca, but by also providing professional technical advice on a number of occasions. He reclaimed a number of damaged sculptures by using his strong technical knowledge of working with bronze and the different foundry processes involved. 

Randa was totally dedicated to ensuring the success of the Citizens Hall of Fame program and was more than glad to help out to establish the new site in Assiniboine Park in 1997.

A special retrospective exhibition was held early this year by Partners in the Park, featuring Randa’s great pieces of artwork. He was a master of many media.

Randa was an artisan and a craftsman who could take his sculptures all the way from a sketch or a small model, to a clay or plasticine model and plaster cast, to formwork, casting, reproduction and then to the finished product. He created works in bronze, glass, plaster  and fibreglass. 

Randa also had a special skill for giving his finished works the right final touches — his mastery of different patinas was uncanny. He also used them to restore valuable antique pieces of art by others such as the statue of St. Mary in Winnipeg’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Bill Neville, one of the Citizens Hall of Fame long-time selection committee members, who in part got to know Randa during Citizens Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, wrote an inspired column this year in the Winnipeg Free Press on Randa’s life and works. It includes a picture of Randa in his home studio with the completed sculpture of Vince Leah, a Citizens Hall of Fame inductee. 

One comment Neville makes that is evident through the Citizens Hall of Fame program is how good Randa was with his portraitures. He considers Randa’s small portrait bust of Diefenbaker, whom he knew quite well, as “the most compelling portrait” of the former prime minister.

With the installation of Ridd’s bust in Assiniboine Park, there are now 28 sculptures of Winnipeg’s outstanding citizens on display for the public to see and enjoy. Sculptors Madeleine Vrignon and Helen Granger-Young are busy completing the busts of 2005 inductees Gabrielle Roy and Edward Lancaster Drewry. They should be installed later this year. 

The deadline for 2006 Citizens Hall of Fame nominees closed last week and the selection committee will be meeting once again in June to select two more outstanding Winnipeggers: one in the contemporary category and one historical that completed their major contributions to the city prior to 1950.

The Winnipeg Real Estate Board is proud to have established this very worthwhile program 20 years ago and looks forward to carrying on the Citizens Hall of Fame for many years to come.