Carl Francis Wagner (pictured left) was born in November 1917 in Regina, Saskatchewan – the third child in four years born to Louis and Lottie (nee Faulkner) Wagner. (A fourth child, daughter Phyllis would be born eight years after Carl). Carl’s father, Louis, had been born and raised in the predominantly German community around Berlin, Ontario but headed west to Saskatchewan in 1907 as the prairie provinces began to boom.
Life on the prairies wasn’t always easy for young Carl. Just as he was entering his teen years, the Great Depression hit and it hard the prairies particularly hard. His father had moved the family to Markinch in 1919 where he opened a garage and implement business. The Depression brought about the collapse of the business and the loss of the family home. As a young man, Carl, like his older brother Gordon, enlisted to serve with Canadian troops in World War 2. Carl served his country in a medical unit. In 1942, Carl married a young nurse named Teresa ‘Tess’ Latimer and together they would raise four children.
It was the game of golf though that brought notoriety to Carl. Through the 1950’s and most of the 1960’s, Carl was the renowned Superintendent of the Lambton Golf and Country Club which had been founded in 1902 and to this day serves as the oldest 18 hole golf course in the city of Toronto. Such was Carl’s reputation that when he was hired by the Bigwin Island Resort to manage their golf course in 1968, the resort took out a quarter page ad in the front news section of the Toronto Star newspaper featuring Carl to draw in new members. But Carl’s crown jewel was still to follow.
In 1969, Carl answered the call to build and manage a new golf course in Prince Edward Island. Carl and Tess subsequently established their home in Montague, Prince Edward Island. The Brudenell River Golf Course, designed by Robbie Robinson, was built by Carl on a peninsula of land that separated the Brudenell and Montague Rivers. Carl enhanced the natural beauty of the Prince Edward Island landscape by including gardens throughout the course in addition to the manicured fairways and greens that were his trademark.
Both the Bigwin Island and the Brudenell River golf courses remain ranked in the top 100 golf courses in Canada to this day!