In the mid-sixties, a huge earthquake rocked Alaska. This sent a series of seismic waves along the West Coast of Vancouver Island, hitting Port Alberni late in the night. Fortunately, many citizens were alerted and evacuated, preventing any great casualties. Marg Schulz was just a little girl back then but she still recalls bits and pieces of that destructive tsunami.
Marg was born to Dutch immigrants who had arrived in Canada in the 1950s, making their way to Port Alberni. Her father, along with four of his brothers, owned a successful cement plant in that community. The family worked hard and enjoyed the fruits of their labour.
The family eventually left the Vancouver Island community and moved to Aldergrove then to Langley. Although her father had been a successful businessman, he had a Grade 6 education and given that he’d resolved to become a teacher, he headed back to college. During this time, Marg and her mother cleaned the Langley Advance and the Aldergrove post office to support the family.
While living in Port Alberni, Marg took a shining to horses. Although she desperately wanted a horse of her own, she learned to ride on her cousin’s horses. “I wanted my own horse but my parents knew nothing about horses and weren’t prepared to let me buy one,” she said. When the family moved to the mainland, she saw an ad in the paper listing a pony for sale. “I saved my berry picking money to pay for this pony and then cleaned dog kennels to pay for its boarding. Once I had all of that lined up, I cleaned the car and served my parents breakfast in bed – with the ad in hand, of course,” she smiled. Her parents relented and Marg bought her pony. “We stuffed the pony and a bunch of Dutch kids into our van and went home,” she laughed heartily.
At the age of 14, Marg landed her first job. “I started working and Zellers and I just loved it. I could have stayed there until I died,” she laughed. “I loved making the announcements and being a cashier. They were going to put me through their management training program but I had to wait until I was 17 and when you’re a kid the wait seems like a lifetime.” Marg eventually left what she had thought would be a life-time career and instead, got a job at the Old Dutch Bakery in downtown Chilliwack. “The Bank of Montreal was across the street from the bakery and after a while I decided that I’d like to be a banker. It looked like a glamorous job to me, after all, you got to dress up,” she chuckled. Marg dropped off her resume and every Friday she’d stop by to check in. “I did end up getting a job there. They were probably sick of seeing me every Friday and decided to give me the job,” she laughed.
Marg went on to work for the Bank of Montreal for the next five years. “After I had my son, I didn’t want to work full time but that’s all that they had available.” So, she left BMO and went to work for the Bank of BC where she remained, on and off, for the next 20 years. The one aspect of her job that she enjoyed the most was that of a mortgage broker and she eventually left the bank to pursue exactly that, something that she continues to do today.
Although Marg is passionate about her career, she is equally consumed by her hobby. One of the first things that she did, along with husband Ron, was buy a farm and a horse. Then, the couple got into chuckwagaon and chariot racing; Marg would handle the chariots while Ron was into the chuckwagons. “There always seemed to be barrel racing at the events we were at and I thought that it’d be fun,” she said.
One day, Ron lovingly brought home a ‘champion horse’ to surprise her. “He paid $800 for this ‘champion horse’,” she chuckled. He was a good horse, nonetheless and Marg has never looked back. She has not only been competing but managing the races as well. “I’ve been doing this now for 25 years. Time sure goes by quickly. I handle the barrel racing events but before that I was doing it for the chariot and chuckwagon events. We also put on ‘grandstand events’ at the old fairgrounds which included barrels, chucks and chariots, roping, cattle penning, gymkhanas and that sort of thing. I suppose that what I love about doing this is the speed and the adrenalin. I also enjoy the friendships and camaraderie. These people become your family,” she explained.
Her daughter Diana has always shared her parents’ love of horses and has been involved in the sport for as long as anyone can remember. Son Stephen, although a natural with horses, didn’t want to have anything to do with the family passion. Instead, he decided to play hockey. “He even played rep hockey and we travelled everywhere. Between the horses and the hockey it’s a miracle that we were able to do what we did. We travelled everywhere,” she said. Oddly enough, today, Stephen trains horses for chuckwagon racing.
Marg is a real go getter and continues to demonstrate a certain intensity and commitment to both her work and play. One day, though, she hopes to retire down in Arizona. Although riding into the sunset isn’t exactly her style, she may slow down just a little.