“My life has been bookended by hockey in the winter and flying in the summer,” he says.
Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder
“We Play Till We Die” is boldly emblazoned on Bill Carnegie’s favourite hockey sweater.
And every Thursday morning in Caledon East, Bill suits up with as many as 20 men ranging in age from their late 50s to Bill’s mid-80s to play a game of pickup hockey.
White shirts and dark shirts are handed out to make up the teams. After an hour of hard skating, the players reconvene at a restaurant to cool down and continue the kibitzing over coffee.
“It’s a great group of guys,” says Bill, who looks forward to Thursday mornings, but also takes advantage of inexpensive ice time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to hone his skating skills and keep in shape.
A defenceman, Bill isn’t much of a scorer. Asked about his record, he grins and says if he started to score goals, “The guys would want me to quit.”
He began his business career as a runner on Bay Street at age 18. A few years later, he passed the trader’s exam and spent the next 40 years on the floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange. The boisterous and exciting environment suited him perfectly.
Former NHLer Peter Conacher was also a trader at the time and often asked Bill to play with NHL old-timers. Bill remembers sharing the ice with stars such as Gordie Howe, Andy Bathgate, Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer and Ron Ellis, as well as sportscaster Brian McFarlane, among others.
For many years Bill had his commercial pilot’s licence, but flew his Cessna 172 mostly for fun. “My life has been bookended by hockey in the winter and flying in the summer,” he says.
Between them, Bill and his wife Claire had four children, and the couple now have eight grandchildren, as well as a year-old great-grandchild. He has played hockey with his kids and grandkids and is hoping he will be able to do the same with his great-grandson.
Though he acknowledges he is now noticeably slower and becomes winded faster during games, Bill continues to love being on the rink and has no intention of giving it up anytime soon.
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