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The Saskatchewan Story of the Schoenhals Family

The Schoenhals family arrived in Saskatchewan in the middle of the Province’s fifth decade. On our arrival in 1959 the family consisted of Stewart and Phyllis, son Paul (17), daughter Nancy (14), and son Mark (11). Stewart was a salesman for Canada Health and Accident Insurance and had been chosen to set up an office in Saskatoon. A lot of planning went into the move and as we started the trek across the country we felt a little like the early settlers who had left Ontario so long ago.

Stewart purchased a good used truck which was packed with all our belongings. We left our home town of Clinton, Ontario and shared the driving stopping only for gas and meals. We were anxious to get to Saskatoon in time to register the children for fall classes. We spent out first night in Saskatoon at the Bit T Motel on 8th Street. The used truck was sold to a farmer as a grain truck and that paid for our move.

The second day we moved into our new house at 1318 10 Street and began to feel at home. In the afternoon we went to city hall to get the utilities turned on, etc. Stew and young son Mark went into city hall and the rest remained in the car. In 1959 the main fire hall was located directly across the street from city hall and when the alarm went off and the fire trucks took off Mark came rushing down the stairs and ran headlong into the plate glass front door putting a huge gash in his forehead around his right eye. It was quite a first impression we made on Saskatoon but it had two positives. When the door was replaced it had a red warning strip on it which probably prevented similar accidents in the future. We also met Dr. Art Harris who fixed Mark’s wound and became our family doctor until his retirement many years later. The whole incident made the front page of the Star Phoenix the next day.

The Schoenhals Family Circa 1988 Year: 1988

The Schoenhals Family Circa 1988
Year: 1988

One of our first priorities was to find a church: church life had always been an important part of our family. We lived near Grosvenor Park United Church and learned that Reverend Stewart Anderson was a brother-in-law of a special friend of Stew’s during his five years in the Army during World War II. The friend’s name was Major Chapman always known as Chappie. As well Reverend Glen Eagle our pastor in Clinton was a close friend of Reverend Anderson.

The Family, especially Stewart and I were active in Grosvenor Park United Church until well into the seventies but after Reverend Bruce Johnson left Grosvenor, and because of changes in the United Church in those years, we also left Grosvenor Park and God lead us to University Drive Christian and Missionary Alliance. We were very active in the construction of the new circle Drive Christian and Missionary Alliance Campus which included a large church facility, a nursing home and a three-winged Condominium. Stew and I were employed with the condo staff during construction and through the first two years of its existence in the late 80’s. We were thankful to be an active part of that great church for many years; where we were nurtured and blessed through the Leadership of Rev. Walter Boldt, Rev. Norman Morris, and Rev. Dick Dreidger. Susan Dreidger led a large ladies group Bible Study, and it was my privilege to be under her teaching. I remember that as one of the most joyful learning experiences of my Christian walk; a cherished memory that can never be taken from me. I remember one of her excellent quotes-“God never brings a thirsty soul to a dry well”. Circle Drives’ well was never dry!

When we arrived in Saskatoon in 1959 the children quickly got involved in the fine Saskatoon school system. Paul and Nancy enrolled at Nutana Collegiate and Mark attended Albert Elementary. We planned to make Thanksgiving a very special holiday, our first in our new home. When we woke up Thanksgiving morning there was a foot of snow on the ground and a raging blizzard in progress. In Ontario it wasn’t unusual to celebrate Christmas without snow. The snow stayed until April and we found our first winter in Saskatchewan a bit of a shock but we got used to western winters.

Following that long, severe winter we found ourselves facing an even greater spring disappointment. That was when the Saskatchewan New Democrats introduced their Government Health Plan. Overnight Stew was unemployed, no longer had anyone an interest in purchasing a health plan. Only those who have survived a similar problem could understand our difficulties. Stew’s positive personality never allowed him to become discouraged or depressed. He served with Mervin Milne’s business for many months. He along with Paul’s summer help, did much of the construction in building a large cement block structure on the West side of the city, that housed the Milne Business, and yes that building stills stands today. Stew was employed for many years as a salesman with Mayrath Farm Equipment and traveled throughout all three Western Provinces. He spent many years in Real Estate sales and for several years was Sales Manager with Universal Real Estate.

During the 60’s the children attended school and university but also found time to contribute to the family financially. Mark delivered the Star Phoenix. Nancy baby-sat until she was old enough for other summer work and Paul worked evenings and weekends at the College Shop men’s wear store and summers at McGavins Bakery. Everyone pitched in. I became an Avon Lady going door to door in the Grosvenor Park and Nutana areas selling Avon products. Door to door sales was something I had vowed never to do but it turned out to be very successful and I made many wonderful new friends. During the 60’s we also provided room and board for 53 different university students, many of whom stay in touch to this day. All in all those years were very rewarding and we all learned the importance of a hard-earned dollar.

All three of our children were blessed with scholastic ability and athletic skills. They all put their talents to good use. Paul had always been active in school and community sports playing hockey, baseball, basketball, track and field and of course football. In later years he has become an avid golfer and is still very active in golf. However it was in football that he realized his greatest successes. He was a member of the Saskatoon Hilltops for many years. He played in 1961 & 62; was an assistant coach in 1967 & 68; and head coach from 1974-79. The Hilltops won Canadian championships in 1968 and 1978. Paul continued on as a director of the club after his coaching days were over. He also served as an assistant coach with the U of S Huskies from 1969 to 1972.

After Paul’s graduation from the U of S with a Bachelor of Education Degree (1964) he began a 17 year teaching career in the Saskatoon High School System. He taught at the Technical Collegiate, Mount Royal and Aden Bowman. He not only taught Physical Education and History but also coached most of the sports offered in the extra-curricular program. In 2003 the Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletic Department recognized his long and distinguished career with a special award.

In 1982 Paul was elected to represent the riding of Saskatoon Sutherland in the Provincial Legislature. He served as a cabinet minister in Grant Devine’s first term as Minister of Urban Affairs and Culture and Recreation. In 1983 he was moved to Energy & Mines and for most of 1986 he held a number of business portfolios. He was defeated in the 1986 election and was appointed Chairman of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. In this position he oversaw a much needed downsizing of the head office, brought in a new senior management team under Chuck Childers and worked on the preparation of the privatization of PCS. He still sits on the board of Potash Corporation and one of the managers he brought in, Bill Doyle, is the current President and CEO. In 1989 Paul moved to Calgary and became President and CEO of the Petroleum Industry Training Service, a position he still holds.

In 1969 Paul married Dorenda Stirton of Moose Jaw. Dorenda was a nurse but is most remembered for her curling prowess. In 1970 she skipped the youngest team to ever win the Canadian Ladies Curling championship. She also won Canadian Mixed Championships curling third for Rick Folk.

Paul and Dorenda were blessed with three children, Susan born in 1970 attended public and high school in Saskatoon and Regina and graduated from the U of S with an honors degree in International Studies. Since then she has been employed in Vancouver and London, England. In 2001 she married Edwin Kaczor and now resides in Boston, Massachutes with Ed and their son Sasch Elliot born in May 2003.

Ryan was born in 1973 and attended elementary school in Saskatoon and Regina and High School in Regina. He studied at McGill where he played varsity basketball for 5 years. He was captain of the Redmen his last two years. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and moved to Calgary where he is employed in the oil and gas industry. He married Kathryn Wren in 2002 and the couple has a son, Connor Allen. Ryan stays active in basketball and is also an avid golfer.

Karyn joined the family in 1976 and attended elementary and secondary school in Regina. She graduated from UBC with a degree in psychology in 1999. She then went to chef school and continues to work in Vancouver in the hospitality industry. She has traveled extensively in Europe and is married to Hugh Rose another successful Vancouver chef.

Our second child Nancy spent 4 years at Nutana Collegiate and was an Honor Graduate in the class of 1963. She was active in the sports programs, especially basketball and track & field. She held the high jump record in Saskatoon for many years. During those years she met Gord Barwell, City Park Collegiate, an athlete involved in track & field. Nancy and Gord were married in 1964, and went to live in Regina. Gord was well known during the years he played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Nancy was part of the basketball team while a student at U of S. She completed her studies and graduated from U of R in 1974 with a degree in Physical Education.

Following Gord’s retirement from the Roughriders in 1974, God called him and Nancy into ministry with Athletes in Action, under campus Crusade for Christ. They worked from their home until 1977 when they moved to Georgetown, Ontario. Gord was chosen as President of Athletes in Action, and along with many other athletes they were very active sharing the gospel message with professional teams, collegiate and university youth. In 1987 Gord was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. After an eight hour surgery he was left partially paralyzed and that horrible disease took his life in 1988. A number of years later Nancy went to York University where she earned another degree. In 1999 she married Pastor Gerry Kraft, Missionary Director of Outreach Canada in Vancouver where they reside. Together they minister to candidates preparing for Missionary Service and assist newly birthed churches across Canada.

Nancy and Gord had two children; Jay was born in Regina in 1965 where he had schooling in Massey Elementary, Regina and graduated from Georgetown Collegiate. He studied at Ryerson College and University of Toronto. He enrolled at Tyndale Seminary, Toronto and Graduated with a Masters of Theology. Jay and Pam Denny were married in 1988 and during their years in Toronto she was the Physical Education Director at Lorne Park Collegiate. The Barwell’s have two sons Tanner nine and Jesse seven. They now reside in White Rock B.C. where Jay is Director of Communications with Focus on the Family, ministering through the Canadian office in Langley, B.C.

Jody was born in Regina in 1967. She too attended Massey Elementary and graduated from Georgetown Collegiate. She received a Physical Education Degree from University of Toronto, and in 1990 she married Brian McQueen. Together they manage and operate McQueen Maintenance, and Jody is also office manager for a Dentist. They have two daughters Sydney 12 and Delaney 10. They live in a beautiful home very close to my own home in Georgetown, and it is special for me to have a family member so near.

Our youngest child Mark completed elementary schooling at Albert, Saskatoon; then attended Nutana for 3 years. He graduated from Technical Collegiate during Paul’s teaching years there. He used his athletic skills in football, hockey and today he enjoys golf. Mark was coached by brother Paul at Tech and for his Hilltop years. He was a part of the two Canadian Championships the Hilltops brought to Saskatoon in 1968 and 1969. After study at University of Saskatchewan he accepted a position with Canada Mortgage and Housing and moved to Regina, where he still resides. He had a very successful career in mortgage and loans investments. For several years he was employed with Houston Willoughby. For the past several years he has had a position with Greystone Managed Investments Ltd. And at present he is Chief Marketing Officer.

In 1975 Mark married Lorrayne Elton and in 1976 Jeffery joined their family. He received his early education in Regina Elementary schools and graduated from Millar Collegiate. He completed his studies at University of Regina with a Degree in Business Administration and a Major in Accounting. He now lives in Calgary where he is employed in the oil and gas industry.

Lindsay Schoenhals was born in 1979. She attended Millar and also Leboldus Collegiate. She continued her education at University of Regina and graduated with an Arts Degree in Human Justice. She is now working with troubled youth at Ranch Eoshal Society in Regina.

Mark and Lorrayne divorced in 1989. Mark met and later married Rita Milenkivic in 1994. Rita owns and operates Travel Gallery, a successful agency in the city. Her son Will Smith received education at Luther and Leboldus Collegiate. He is living and employed in Panorama, B.C.

Stew and I continued living in Saskatoon after all our family had moved away. Stew continued in real estate, and after a heart attack and continuing angina, spent winters in Florida. In 1985 he was diagnosed with cancer and received treatments in both the old and the beautiful new Cancer Clinics at Royal University Hospital. Praise the Lord for a competent oncologist. In 1993 we moved back to our roots, and settled in a 9th floor condominium at The Sands of Halton Hills, in Georgetown. It was there Stew’s struggle with cancer ended in 1995. Through those 10 years he went through two major surgeries, 89 chemo and 59 radiation treatments. The day of Stew’s death ended our 59 year love story. To have lived so many years in Canada is a special blessing; as Canadians we must appreciate our freedom.

Congratulations to Saskatchewan on your Centennial 2005. During our 32 years as residents there we had many enjoyable visits to the Western Development Museum, one of the Treasures of the Province worth maintaining.

Phyllis L. Schoenhals