Remembering Herb Carnegie

[attach]5602[/attach]Herbert H. Carnegie could have been remembered as the first black hockey player in the National Hockey League.

Although he never got the chance to realize that dream, he helped make it possible for thousands of Ontario students to chase theirs.

On the afternoon of Mar. 9, the successful athlete, businessman and philanthropist died at Sunnybrook Hospital at the age of 92. He entered the hospital on the evening of Mar. 8 suffering from complications of pneumonia and kidney disease.

The son of Jamaican immigrants, Carnegie was born in Toronto on Nov. 8, 1919 and quickly took to the game of hockey. In the 1940s he was regarded as one of the best hockey players in the country, winning three most valuable player awards in the Quebec Provincial League. However, the colour of his skin coupled with prevalent prejudices at the time prevented him from playing in the NHL.

Carnegie took the pain and rejection he felt and turned it into something positive. Following his retirement from hockey in the 1950s, he began the Future Aces hockey school and wrote the Future Aces creed. That creed, which emphasizes co-operation, education and sportsmanship, continues to be taught in schools across Ontario. Future Aces awards are given to Ontario elementary school students who display the characteristics set out in the creed.

In 1987, while working as a financial planner, Carnegie began the Future Aces Foundation. It organizes conferences, workshops and training courses for both students and teachers and also awards scholarships, according to the foundation’s executive director and one of the Carnegie’s daughters, Bernice Carnegie.

“In 1988 we gave our first scholarships,” she said. “There were five kids and we gave out $5,000.

“Now, 25 years later we have given out a half a million dollars in scholarships.”

His daughter said the sky is the limit for the work Carnegie started. On April 13, another 30 scholarships will be handed out to students entering post-secondary school.

“I’m sure that my father would like to be remembered for helping young people to find themselves,” she said. “He loved the fact that the Future Aces philosophy was the guiding light that made a difference in so many lives.”

Across the city, many people remember seeing Carnegie speak at their school. Comic book enthusiasts may also remember seeing him in two issues of The Amazing Spider-Man where he helps the superhero bring down a drug-dealing villain.

In addition to his skills on the ice, Carnegie was also an accomplished golfer. He won several provincial and national senior championships.

Bernice Carnegie said she has received hundreds of emails and countless calls of condolences.

“He was a great man and he is still a great man,” she said. “I really wasn’t prepared to see the outpouring of love from the community.

“His Jamaican parents would be totally overwhelmed that they had a child that was loved this much by a country.”

A visitation for Herb Carnegie will be held on Mar. 15 from 2–4 p.m. and 6–9 p.m. at the RS Kane Funeral Home at 6150 Yonge St.

A celebration of his life will take place at Earl Haig Secondary School on Mar. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

“My father made his life happen,” said his daughter. “He didn’t depend on other people to open doors of opportunity.

“If I had any message for others it would be look within, start within, find your best talents and abilities, and find a way to share them with others because that’s what’s going to make our world a much better place.”