Jake Schulz was born in Russia and raised in Romania. At age 20 he was promoted to Sergeant in the Romanian Calvary, and at 26 he was elected to his village council.
In 1930, during the Great Depression, Jake, his wife, Amelia (Kelm), and their first child, Herbert, immigrated to Canada where they settled in the Grandview area. By 1936, the Schulzs had acquired an additional half section of land, which they eventually expanded into a successful two-section farm. Their second son, Paul and daughter, Lily were born in Canada. Mr. Schulz was an early adopter of new technologies: a one-way disc to replace the plow; a straw chopper on his combine; legumes to replace summerfallow; a generator to electrify the farm; and hot and cold running water.
Jake was intellectually motivated toward building a stronger foundation for agriculture and his community. He joined the co-operative movement and served as Councillor of the R.M. of Grandview. He introduced concrete culverts at his own expense to demonstrate their advantage. Jake convinced the municipality to purchase an elevating grader to build better roads to improve community life. Adoption of Jake’s ideas resulted in the R.M. of Grandview winning an award for having the best roads in rural Manitoba.
Jake believed that man’s capacity for rational thought could be used to create greater fairness and equality in society. In 1950, he became the founding president of the Manitoba Farmers Union (MFU). With great passion and energy, he built the MFU into a 30,000 member organization, representing about 50 percent of the farmers in Manitoba. Jake was a fiery and eloquent speaker, creating strong reactions in those who agreed with his ideas and also in those who disagreed with them. In the 1950s, he served as Chairman of the Interprovincial Farm Union Council, the forerunner of the National Farmers Union. The organizations he represented were strong advocates of orderly marketing and cash advances for farm-stored grain. Farmers Union pressure helped to pave the way for the present cash-advance program, the Canadian Wheat Board Advisory Committee and greater farmer control over organizations like the Canadian Grain Commission. Jake’s vision was for a farmer-controlled Canadian agriculture.
Jake Schulz was elected to Parliament in the 1957 federal election to represent Springfield for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. He served only one year as he was defeated at the next election. In later life, Jake established a construction company in Winnipeg. Although his career in farm politics lasted less than a decade, Jake played a pivotal role in building a national farm organization. Many of the farm and rural policies he championed are in place today. He wrote two books, Rise and Fall of Canadian Farm Organizations and The American Nightmare.