Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY
TORONTO — The gang at Betty’s are going to raise a glass to Bill Reddall Monday afternoon.
And it won’t be any old toast to a friend at the Queen St. watering holy.
It will follow a morning Funeral Mass for the former St. Mike’s College student, priest and teacher at the Catholic school.
No, their heavenly gesture will be directed at a photo hung above Reddall’s regular pew in the front window of the pub that shows Reddall reaching out to shake the hand of the Pope.
The photo reminds you of The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting of God giving life to Adam — their hands reaching out to each other.
Reddall, a former Gravenhurst High School history teacher and coach of the Indians Jr. C. hockey club, died on Tuesday, March 19.
He was 83, last Saturday.
He leaves his wife, Judy; and a son and daughter Amy, of Portland, Ont., and David, of Edmonton, from a previous marriage to Jane Carghill.
His body has been donated to the medical school at University of Toronto.
Reddall was a native of Toronto and happy to retire to his hometown, where he grew up and attended St. Mike’s, playing hockey with Dave Keon and Frank Mahavolich.
“He was a diehard St. Mike’s man.”
But after getting hit with a stick and losing his spleen, he gave up a promising hockey career for the priesthood. He joined the Basilian Fathers, a teaching order, and taught history and world religion eight years at St. Mike’s
In recent years, after going through prostate cancer, knee replacements, getting a pacemaker and moving to a retirement home in 2014, he succumbed to Lewy body dementia.
His wife said she’s happy he wasn’t aware of the scandal surrounding his beloved alma mater.
“It would have killed him,” she said.
Reddall left the priesthood in the fallout from the Second Vatican Council.
He taught a year at Geraldton in north-western Ontario, before moving to GHS in 1974.
John Brownlee was principal and hired him to teach history.
At a time when most new teachers were young grads, Reddall stood out as like a seasoned professor and mature man.
“He was better than a good teacher, he was an outstanding teacher,” said Brownlee. “He was very conscientious and had great relations with the students.”
He remained friends with many students after retiring from teaching in the late 1990s.
Former student David Christensen, who also played for him with the Indians, said: “He was one of the most important people in my life.
“He changed the way I was going in hockey and school. I’m one of his biggest fans.
“Just a great guy.”
Hal Humphries, of Gravenhurst, a friend and colleague, hit it off with Reddall when they came to town and through a love for teaching, coaching and hockey.
“Bill and I arrived at GHS the same year — 1974 — my first year teaching. And we lived side by side at the Pinedale Apartments, owned Arne Nielsen.
“We also soon discovered that we were to teach side-by-side at GHS as well — Rooms 115 and 116,” said Humphries in an email.
“Bill and I shared academic interests as well. He with his MA in history and me a new geography grad. He was a great resource for a young rookie teacher.
“Bill had taught many years earlier at St Mike’s as well as at Mt. Royal College in Calgary, before his stint in Ontario’s far north at Geraldton.
“Bill brought a very ‘old school’ academic approach to the teaching. His classes featured a well-honed lecture style and he incorporated the classic historical essay into his approach for all students — a sort or ‘professorial style.’
“He was extremely well-read and could be seen reading the latest history classic/text in his spare time. We had many discussions concerning literacy and essay writing.”
The two also bonded over their mutual love for hockey.
“I also found out when I met Bill in that fall of 1974 that we shared an interest in hockey. After a number of chats about hockey, I quickly discovered the breadth and depth of Bill’s background, compared to mine.
“I could boast some Jr. B experience in St Marys with the Lincolns and some minor hockey experience.
“But Bills background was associated with the Toronto Maple Leafs farm system at St Mike’s in the 1960.
“Wow! Bill never bragged about his background, but I learned he played with the St. Mike’s Jr. B Buzzers in the mid 1950s, and then went on in the late ’50s and early 1960s to coaching future NHL prospects at the Catholic high school. Most of their games and practices were held at Maple Leaf Gardens until the school got their own rink in 1960.”
Humphries said Reddall told him he was the assistant coach on the 1960-61 Buzzers team that won the Ontario provincial title (undefeated in playoffs). That was the same year that the St Mike’s Majors won the Memorial Cup coached by Father David Bauer.
Hal the players on that team played in the NHL or other pro leagues.
Reddall said goalies Gerry Cheevers and Gary Smith were on his teams.
This was the time when the Leafs owned the players at St Mike’s and on the Marlies who they were developing for the Leafs team.
“Pretty impressive hockey involvement, I thought,” said Humphries.
Reddall’s background “got out” and very quickly and he was “hired” to be the head coach of Gravenhurst Minor Hockey that fall of ’74.
‘Head coaches’ for minor hockey associations was a popular model in the Muskoka. Parry Sound had former Leaf great Bucko McDonald, who came from Sundridge.
Reddall resurfaced in 1978-79 to be the first coach of the Indians.
Humphries, who was his assistant coach, said and the St. Mike’s connection proved useful.
“Bill’s contacts sent us two very skilled imports — Steve Bice and Lenny Willet — and they proved to be the backbone of some very good future teams. Bice had been the leading scorer the previous year in the Metro Jr. B league, but once tuition was required after grade 10 to stay at St. Mike’s he was forced to leave. Lenny was the same.”
“Steve played here for a number of years and earned his diploma from GHS.
Bernie Bowins, the team’s GM, was another close friend. He and Reddall and fellow teachers Gerry Bray and Terry Vint were partners in a cabin cruiser. But, as they say, there’s no ship rougher than a partnership. All are gone now.
Humphries concluded that Reddall “was a fine, accomplished teacher in the traditional mould.
“He brought a very calm, but disciplined, teaching approach to his coaching. I never saw him unravel on the bench. His background as priest at St Mike’s in his early days probably contributed to this.”
REDDALL, William David Patrick Reddall
Proud alumnus of St. Michael’s College School. Class of 1957, University of Toronto. Loving husband and best friend to wife Judy. Survived by son David, daughter Amy and grandchildren Nora and Stella.
Memorial service to be observed at St. Paul’s Basilica, 83 Power St., Toronto, on Monday, March 25, 2019 at 11 a.m.
A reception to follow at Betty’s, 240 King St. E., Toronto.
In lieu of flowers, donations would be welcome at Castleview Wychwood Towers, 351 Christie Street, 4th Floor C, Toronto.