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Herbert H. (Herb) Carnegie, Order of Canada, Order of Ontario (born November 8, 1919) is a former Canadian ice hockey player. Born in Toronto, Ontario to Jamaican parents, Carnegie was the first Black Canadian hockey player to be offered an opportunity to play in the National Hockey League.

Playing career[]

Carnegie’s hockey career began in 1938 with the Toronto Young Rangers and continued in the early 1940s with the Buffalo-Ankerite Bisons, a team in a senior league that played in mining towns in northern Ontario and Québec. From 1944-45 to 1947-48, he played for Shawinigan and Sherbrooke of the semi-professional Quebec Senior Hockey League and was named most valuable player in 1946, 1947 and 1948.

In 1948, Carnegie was given a tryout with the New York Rangers and offered a contract to play in the Rangers' minor league system. However, he was offered less money than he was earning in the Quebec league and turned down all three offers made by the Rangers organization during his tryout.

Returning to Canada to play in the Quebec Senior Hockey League, he played for Sherbrooke St. Francis and the Quebec Aces before moving to Ontario to play a single season with the Owen Sound Mercurys of the Ontario Hockey Association. During his years in the Quebec Senior League, Carnegie played with future Montreal Canadiens star Jean Beliveau and was coached by Punch Imlach.

Facing racism[]

As a black man playing hockey in the 1940s and 1950s, Carnegie endured his share of racism. In one famous 1938 incident, Conn Smythe, the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, watched Carnegie play as a member of the Toronto Young Rangers. He is alleged to have said either that he would accept Carnegie on the team if he were white or that he would pay $10,000 to anyone who could turn Carnegie white.

In Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey, author Cecil Harris noted that “some doubt has arisen” as to whether Smythe did indeed utter this remark. According to Harris, Carnegie and others believe that racism played an important part in keeping him out of the NHL. Others interviewed point to his decision to refuse the Rangers offer to play in their organization.


Herb Carnegie featured in Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man comic book about hockey titled Skating on Thin Ice

After his playing career, Carnegie started the Future Aces Hockey School, one of first hockey schools in Canada, in 1955. In 1956, he wrote the “Future Aces Creed” in an attempt to foster respect, cooperation, self-esteem and self-confidence among young people.

Carnegie also continued his athletic career as a golfer, winning the Canadian Seniors Golf Championship in 1977 and 1978, and the Ontario Senior Golf Championship in 1975, 1976 and 1982.

In 1987, he established the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation to provide bursaries for college and university. Carnegie also had a successful business career as a financial planner with the Investors Group.

In 1996, he published his biography, A Fly in a Pail of Milk: The Herb Carnegie Story.” (Mosaic Press, 1996).

Carnegie was named to the Order of Ontario in 1996 and the Order of Canada in 2003. On May 2, 2005, the North York Centennial Centre was renamed the Herbert H. Carnegie Centennial Centre in his honour. On June 12, 2006, he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from York University. A public school in York Region (north of Toronto) is named in his honour. [1] Carnegie is now legally blind.

Family life[]

Carnegie currently resides in Toronto. He was married to Audrey May Carnegie for 60 years, from 1940 until her death in 2003. They had four children, nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren. His grandson, Rane Carnegie, is a hockey player who has played for the Belleville Bulls, Plymouth Whalers, Halifax Mooseheads, Milwaukee Admirals and Bakersfield Condors.



  • Canadian Who’s Who. 2006 edition. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8020-4054-3.
  • Harris, Cecil. Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2003. ISBN 1-894663-58-6.
  • Who’s Who in Black Canada: Black Success and Black Excellence in Canada: A Contemporary Directory. Toronto : D.P. Williams & Associates, 2002. ISBN 0-9731384-1-6.

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