North York hockey pioneer dies at 92
“My father never thought of himself as a black man, he thought of himself as a man,” Bernice Carnegie said of her father, Herb, as her voice broke. “He was clearly a trailblazer.”
On March 9, Herbert Carnegie, Willowdale’s legendary hockey player, golfer and founder of the youth charitable organization the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation, passed away at 92.
He leaves behind quite the legacy. Known as the best black hockey player to never play in the professional leagues, Carnegie was inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame and is a two-time winner of the Canadian Senior Golf Champion title.
Bernice said support from the community in North York has been overwhelming.
“I said to my sister, ‘I don’t want to have the celebration, I just want to have a private family funeral,” she said. “I realized that with so many people who want to be a part of this moment, it can’t just be a small family gathering. It really has to include the whole community.”
As a black man playing hockey in the 1930s, Carnegie was able to overcome racial obstacles through his love of the game. In a 2011 interview with the Toronto Star, Carnegie said, “Stay on the ice. You can’t win from the penalty box. Play by the rules, and don’t take guff from anyone either.”
Carnegie’s accomplishments, which include being the first black man to establish a registered hockey school, also earned him much recognition throughout North York and Toronto. For instance, a public school and arena bear his name.
It is now up to Bernice, executive director and co-founder, along with her father and mother, to carry on her father’s work at Future Aces.
“I’ve spent 30 years of my life working on projects with my father at Future Aces,” she said. “I am his eyes and I am his feet, and I carry his message for about 15,000 students a year.”