Shirley Holtz believed in her husband’s dream of owning a company. With determination regardless of the hard work, stress, and sleepless nights that came with the “job,” that dream became a reality almost 50 years ago.
While Allen was establishing Northern Weldarc Ltd., Shirley was behind the scenes working three jobs to take care of the family. Eventually, Shirley was able to quit her jobs to work full time in the office at NWL, taking care of the books, reception, and HR.
Shirley was raised by her mother Vivian, who was a single mom living in a then-small town called Lloydminster, Alberta (or Saskatchewan, depending on the side of the street you were on).
Money was tight in the 1930s and 40s for everyone. Vivian, who worked as a cosmetologist at Moxley Drugs, was no exception to the times, but Lloyd was a tight community in those days and people helped others when they could. The people in the area understood how hard it was for Vivian to raise a child by herself. Mr. Donley of Donley’s Bakery, which was just off Main Street, gave Shirley her first job when she was about nine years old: wrapping bread in wax paper and putting it through a hot iron, which sealed the paper around the bread. Then she would place it on the shelf to sell.
Fifty cents from each pay cheque would be taken to the town jewelry store as down payments for a necklace that Shirley bought her mother for Christmas. It took months, but Shirley paid for the necklace just in time to give it to her mother on Christmas morning. Oh, Vivian was so surprised to see the necklace wrapped in Christmas paper from her young daughter!
Shirley’s next job was at Mr. Phillpott’s Grocery Store. She would stock shelves and wait on customers. Eventually, Mr. Moxley hired her to work at the Drug Store with her mom. Babysitting was also another way Shirley earned money, which always helped the struggling family keep afloat.
When Shirley was about 15 years old, she and her mom moved to Edmonton. Vivian found a job in Woodward’s as a cosmetologist and Shirley went to school at Victoria Composite High School. There she met Marlene Wismer (Shepard) and the two stayed friends for over 70 years until Marlene’s recent passing.
During Grade 10 Shirley found a part time job at a drugstore. It was very hard to find work in Edmonton during that time. She quit school when she was hired full time as a bank teller at the Treasury Branch (ATB). Shortly after starting with the Treasury Branch, she was transferred to 118th Avenue branch, which took two buses to get to and from each day. She didn’t like the length of time it took each day and started searching for a new job. Eventually she found a teller position at the Commerce Bank, which amalgamated with the Imperial Bank and became the Imperial Bank of Commerce. She worked at the 101 Street and Jasper Avenue branch.
When Allen started NWL, Shirley was still working part time for two different banks. In the evenings, she worked for an appliance store demonstrating dishwashers at homes as they were the “new thing.” She also worked at Northlands Racetrack as a teller on her days off, weekends and evenings. During that time she was also helping at NWL.
Shirley knew hard work was the key to success and she proved it time and time again.
This Mother’s Day, we would like to thank Shirley for her lifetime commitment to being a Mom and her endless dedication to NWL. She created a roadmap for women to show them how they can have a dream, a family, run a business and not have to sacrifice one dream for the other. Happy Mother’s Day Shirley, and thank you for all that you do and all that you are! You are the Rock!
CEO of Northern Weldarc Ltd.
Daughter of Shirley Holtz