Photo from the John Andrew Sawkey collection 

Wagner’s Garage – Mac Nutt, Saskatchewan

submitted by Hugh Wagner

John Wagner started Wagner’s Garage as a new business in Mac Nutt in the spring of 1938. Originally known as J.F. Wagner and Sons the business began as a full service automotive repair shop and Texaco gas station.

Eventually, Wagner’s Garage grew to include a bulk fuel distributorship; a Chrysler/Dodge vehicle dealership and a Minneapolis Moline farm implement dealership. By 1950 the business had become a partnership between John Wagner and his son Roland and in 1951 the business switched to selling Imperial Oil (ESSO) products and General Motors (GM) vehicles. During the 1950’s the farm implement franchise was discontinued. 

Over the years Wagner’s Garage employed a variety of men from the Mac Nutt area. Among them were: Fred Schaan, Howard Kendel, Norman Kendel, Alfred Schaan and Frank Becker. While not employed in the business, Gustave Andrews spent many hours in the shop keeping Roland Wagner and the others company as well as reminding them where they had last used the particular hand tool they were looking for.

Wagner’s Garage was always something of a social hub, especially on rainy days and Saturday evenings. It provided a venue for discussing current events, impersonating local characters and telling many tall tales.

In 1968 Roland and Marie Wagner took over the business when John Wagner retired and it became known as Wagner’s Garage Ltd. At this point the bulk fuel business was discontinued and the focus became vehicle repair and servicing as well as the sale of new GM vehicles.

Roland Wagner’s reputation as a top notch mechanic and honest businessman spread far beyond Mac Nutt. The number of people looking for reliable automotive service caused them to drive considerable distances to get their work done at Wagner’s Garage in Mac Nutt. Eventually, the vehicle repair and service work reached such a volume that in 1983 Roland and Marie decided to discontinue the GM dealership.

In 1987 the Wagner’s sold their business, but not its name, to Rene Hanchar and they retired from business. In each of its forty-nine years of operation Wagner’s Garage always turned a profit; not always large, but never a loss. In its own way, Wagner’s Garage was a symbol of the commitment to hard work and self-reliance that was characteristic of the people in the Mac Nutt area and the province generally.