Carl O. Nickle was born in Winnipeg in 1914. As a boy he came to Calgary with his parents, Sam and Olga Nickle, where he was raised and educated.
The family was far from wealthy. In 1936, in the depths of the Great Depression, Carl was a student at Mount Royal College. He was anxious to continue his studies, but did not have the money to pay his tuition fees. However, the Principal allowed him to remain in school; a gesture Carl never forgot.
In 1937, Carl left his job as a reporter with CFCN radio to launch - with sixty five dollars in capital - a newsletter: Nickle's Daily Oil Bulletin. After the early years of struggles, the Daily Oil Bulletin eventually became the "Bible" of the oil industry.
The 1947 Leduc oil discovery blew the lid off the oil industry, and the Daily Oil Bulletin as well. Subscription orders poured in from investment houses, companies, banks and governments in Canada, the United States and Europe. In 1948 Carl, with co-founder Les Rowland, began a second publication, Oil in Canada.
Carl was elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative member in a 1951 by-election, and was re-elected in the 1953 general election. He retired from Parliament in 1957, in the wake of the "Great Pipeline Debate", over the routing of a trans-Canada natural gas pipeline. In Alberta, he fought for, and eventually witnessed, the development of a pipeline network linking the province's natural gas resources to markets in Eastern Canada and the United States. He formed his own oil and gas company, Conventures, and served on the boards of directors of many companies in Canada and the U.S.
Carl's first love was numismatics and he created a major collection of ancient coins. Parts of this collection were later donated to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and the Provincial Museum in Edmonton. In 1970, the main part of the collection was donated to the Nickle Arts Museum. That gift, in effect, matched his father's donation of funds for the construction of the Museum.
Carl became involved in many community organizations including the Boy Scouts, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. In 1955 he established the Nickle Foundation which, among other things, provided scholarships to needy students. Carl's father, Sam, established a charitable foundation as well, in 1962. After Sam's death in 1971, Carl was president of both foundations and merged them to create the Nickle Family Foundation, where he served as president until 1988. The Nickle Family Foundation provides primarily capital grants to charities in the arts, social sciences, health care and education. In June of 1979, Carl Nickle - like his father before him - was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Calgary, in recognition of his great contributions to the Calgary and University communities.
Dr. Carl Nickle died in December, 1990, at the age of 76.
Courtesy of the Nickle Family Foundation, December, 1998
Portrait by Jeanette E. McClelland Brookes, 1991
Biographical notes on Samuel C. Nickle