Fly in a Pail of Milk, A by Herb Carnegie with Bernice Carnegie, ECW Press

A Fly in a Pail of Milk: The Herb Carnegie Story

Carnegie, Herb with Bernice Carnegie

  • Revised and updated with commentary from Bernice Carnegie, Herb’s daughter, and life lessons passed from father to daughter

    Herbert Carnegie was the complete hockey package in the 1940s and 1950s. Though his contributions to society both in sport and education have been referenced and profiled in books, documentaries, and thousands of articles, this is Carnegie’s own account of striving to break the glass ceiling, starting with his career as a professional hockey player on all-white teams. In 1978, noted hockey journalist Stan Fischler wrote a powerful headline about Carnegie: “Born Too Soon.” A Fly in a Pail of Milk reveals the feelings of a trailblazer — a man who proved to be unstoppable on the ice and in his resolve to make our world a better place.

    In this new edition, Herb’s daughter Bernice Carnegie shares stories about what it was like to work closely with Herb on youth and educational projects for more than 30 years. She also reflects on parts of her father’s writings, sharing personal thoughts, family stories, and conversations about how his journey profoundly influenced her life.


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  • Herbert Carnegie is a Black Canadian icon who was inducted into 13 halls of fame and received eight medals for community service, including the Order of Canada. Following an outstanding career in hockey, he became a revered community leader, enriching countless lives through his character development initiative Future Aces. Bernice Carnegie is an educational and life enrichment speaker who shares the compelling story of her family who settled in Canada circa 1912. She is co-founder of their family’s youth-based charitable foundation that has promoted character education for three decades and proudly served as its executive director for 17 years. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

  • Published: November 2019

    ISBN: 9781770414952

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 320


“My dad told me about Herb Carnegie when I was young. I read his book during my adolescent years. However, it was after I made the NHL that I really understood his story. Thanks, Mr. Carnegie for teaching me to make the best of my opportunities and not to be a victim of my circumstance.” — P.K. Subban

“Herb Carnegie was one of the most talented professional hockey players of his time, and he paved the way for other players of colour. An exceptional hockey player, had he played in the NHL, I believe he would have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game.” — Willie O’Ree, Hockey Hall of Famer

“Herb Carnegie had all the talent in the world and only the colour of his skin stopped him from achieving his dream of playing in the NHL. He could have been bitter. Instead, he used his life as a light to show others why everyone deserves empathy, dignity, and respect.” — Marci Ien, broadcast journalist, The Social

A Fly in a Pail of Milk brought tears to my eyes and as I understood all the hurdles Herb had to jump through — just to play hockey. It is clear in the eyes of many legends in the Hockey Hall of Fame that Herb had the skills to play in the NHL. Racism kept him away from the league, but nonetheless, his impact paved the way for minorities to play in the NHL.” — Georges Laraque, former NHL great

“Thank you, Mr. Carnegie, isn’t enough! Being robbed of your dream must have felt futile. It certainly was not! So thank you! Your courage and bravery allowed kids like me to realize my dream to play in the NHL.” — Jamal Mayers

“Herb had a long and special relationship with York Regional Police and acted as one of our honorary chiefs for many years. Herb was also a long-time patron of our annual Police Appreciation Night and an award bearing his name is given each year for excellence in building strong relationships between community and police. Herb faced significant challenges and adversity in his life, but used them to find focus and strength of character. He passed along those important lessons to the youth of our community and was a role model for generations. He was an inspiration.” — Eric Jolliffe, Chief of Police, York Regional Police Service

“Upon meeting 89-year-old Herbert Carnegie for the first time, I was in complete awe. As he spoke passionately about his life and his vision, I could feel the decades of energy that Herb Carnegie had directed towards creating positive in the world through his Future Aces program. I learned that this great man had been denied the chance to live his dream of playing in the National Hockey League due to systemic racism. With incredible strength of character, Herb Carnegie channeled such vile hatred into positive messaging for others. Before me stood an amazing role model for our students, the ideal person to have a public school named after. All Canadian students should be taught about Herbert Carnegie; his life is an inspiration for all of us to become the best we can be.” — Michael O’Reilly, principal, Herbert H. Carnegie P.S.

“The most senior executive of the Toronto Maple Leafs openly expressed, ‘If I could turn him white, I could take him tomorrow.’ A half century later, Herb Carnegie was still broken as he recounted the story. A king of community and character, icon of sport, both hockey and golf, and man of immeasurable humility and generosity, Herb cleverly manipulated his disappointment into the Future Aces, a foundation that educates, illuminates and inspires our youth to be their best on and off the ice. The impact he’s imparted on youth makes him a perennial all-star and the life he lived makes him a champion.” — Michael “Pinball” Clemons

“In a time when racism in hockey is making headlines, Carnegie’s newly reissued memoir (with additions from his daughter) provides an open-eyed look at how his NHL prospects were shattered because of racism.” — Toronto Star

“It was about 1980, when Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie walked into my office. For over an hour we talked about Future Aces. They were so committed to the idea and the good it would do that it was inspiring. I watched the program grow, saw the community and educators acceptance and the role it played in the lives of our youth. Herb Carnegie was a visionary and a fighter for justice and equity. He has left us a legacy!” — Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine, PC CM CBE

“All-around excellence and quiet persistence. Look those up in the dictionary and you will find Herb Carnegie’s picture. The hockey career he should have enjoyed was denied him because of the racism of the day. He could have consumed himself with anger and no one would have blamed him. Instead he became a successful businessman, a champion golfer, and a tireless community servant, among many other roles. His greatest legacy though, will be his roadmap to mentorship and personal development of young people in our cities. He was a giant for many and his legacy will live on for generations.” — John Tory, mayor of Toronto

“Herb Carnegie was my very first interview and I will forever be grateful to him and the Carnegie family. Anything I do to support diversity and inclusion in the game of hockey, I do it with his spirit alongside me.” — Kwame Mason, director, Soul on Ice

“Herb Carnegie had been denied the chance of displaying his God-given talent as an NHL hockey player entirely because of the colour of his skin. He dominated the sport at every level he played at. Beliveau called him one of the greatest players he ever saw. While the colour bar in baseball had been broken by Jackie Robinson in 1947, the NHL was devoid of enlightened leadership and Carnegie thus spent his career in the minor leagues. Finally retiring in 1954, Herb could have let the discrimination against him leave him bitter and even reclusive. But instead, as a measure of the man he was, he sought to give the next generation of hockey players the tools to succeed by opening the Future Aces Ice Hockey School — the first academy of its kind. With this re-release of his original book, A Fly in a Pail of Milk: The Herb Carnegie Story, his daughter Bernice details life lessons she learned from him, lessons she continues to apply at and through the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation. It was an honour to have met this great man.” — David Onley, CM, OOnt., former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario