John Christian Schultz:
One of Manitoba's Colourful Businessmen Becomes Lieut. Gov
by George Siamandas
On July 1, 1888 John Christian Schultz the man that had battled Riel was named the fifth Lieut. Gov of Manitoba. Schultz was born in 1840 in Amherstberg Ontario. His dad was from Norway and his mother from Ireland. He was attracted by the vast opportunities in the North West and the adventure he expected to find here.
He is often referred to as Dr Schultz. Upon his arrival in Red River in 1861 he advertised himself in the Nor'wester as "Physician and Surgeon." Schultz claimed to be a doctor from Oberlion College and Victoria University but according to writer Jack Bumstead he received no degrees and no license from Victoria University to practise medicine. But according to a Historic resources report he obtained his license from Victoria and is shown on the first register of Physicians and Surgeons. He was recognized as being a doctor.
By 1870 he was no longer interested in medicine. It is known that he helped his half brother Henry McKenny manage the Royal hotel. He was active in many business enterprises and speculative land deals. He was one of the free traders and operated his "WHITE STORE" which carried varied merchandise from Main and Water street for years starting in 1868. He also owned the Nor'wester for several years.
Schultz was one of the founders of the Masonic Lodge in Winnipeg. A lot of anti Catholic and Anti French feeling emanated from this group.
Schultz was known for his great strength and is reputed to have moved a 900 pound ox cart by himself. He was described as a genial handsome man over 6 feet tall and over 300 pounds with a red sandy complexion. In March of 1870 he marched 450 miles on snowshoes.
Schultz was constantly before the courts in the 1860s over business dealings that had gone sour. He himself was a litigious fellow. Schultz was found guilty of breaching a partnership agreement with Henry McKenny. And subsequently went to jail. But on January 18 1868 he was broken out of jail by a party led by Schultz's wife.
SCHULTZ & RIEL
Schultz opposed Riel and was a leading member of the Canadian Party. The party that wanted to become part of Canada. Portage La Prairie became a refuge for those wanting to get away from Riel's rule. Many of the supporters of the Canadian party guys ended up in Portage. Some suspect Schultz was against Riel because Riel would levy and collect Schultz's long overdue customs bills.
He claimed losses of $55,000 during the Riel rebellion. Schultz received the largest compensation after the rebellion loses at $32,000 of the $61,000 total awarded. There were rumours Schultz was treated generously for not opposing the Manitoba Act of 1870. Riel frequently referred to Schultz as "ce diable Schultz." Jack Bumstead writes that Schultz told stories about himself and of his captivity by Riel for the next 20 years.
THE REAL ESTATE MAN
In the 1870 real estate was his game. By 1871 he was one of the top 5 land owners in Winnipeg. He was first to manufacture and use brick in his buildings.
He bought scrip from Indians resulting from land claims for his own speculation. He offered land for sale between Winnipeg and Selkirk. He even held a land auction in Toronto for Manitoba land. He owned hundreds of lots of land in 21 different municipalities. By 1885 he was the biggest land owner in Winnipeg Schultz also corresponded with William Ogilvie of establishing a wheat industry in Winnipeg.
By the time he became Lieut Gov he was considered to be of high standing. His policies as MP for Lisgar and in his role as Lieut Gov had seen him promote western development. He argued for more rapid development for land reforms, for quicker federal action and for better roads.
As Lieut Gov he spoke up for native people's issues and rights. He was concerned for example about the effect of commercial overfishing on the lakes on native people's livelihoods. Schultz wanted to control the illicit traffic of liquor to natives. He became a genuine proponent of northern development and particularly an expert in Arctic exploration by 1893. In his last decade he suffered from bronchial troubles and was often bed ridden. He went out of power March 1895. Schultz died in 1896 and received a state funeral in Winnipeg.
Schultz's last will and testament left, subject to his wife's death, all his assets to the education of children of half breeds and for hospitals for natives and others.