A successful businessman, Charles Hay worked hard to enrich amateur and international hockey in Canada. He played hockey with verve in his youth then applied his boundless enthusiasm to the administration of the game later in life. Hay worked diligently to help the youth of Canada and believed that bodies such as the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) were responsible for developing the character of its players along with physical skills on the ice.
The native of Kingston, Ontario moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan as an eleven-year-old in 1913. He was schooled at the University of Saskatchewan where he also starred as a goaltender. In 1921 he led the Huskies to the Allan Cup final where they succumbed to the powerful Toronto Granites.
Hay graduated with a degree in civil engineering then embarked on a rewarding career as an executive in the petroleum industry. He served as the president of a number of enterprises such as Hi-Way Refineries Limited and Gulf Canada Limited before retiring in 1969. While pursuing his business goals, Hay maintained an interest in hockey and was a regular at Maple Leaf Gardens. His son, Bill, played eight years with the Chicago Black Hawks and won a Stanley Cup in 1961. Hay also served his alma mater with places on the University of Saskatchewan senate and board of directors.
On December 10, 1968, Hay attended a meeting in Ottawa sponsored by the Task Force on Sport with representatives from the NHL, CAHA, Federal Government and the business community to organize the administrative body that became Hockey Canada. The purpose was to co-ordinate the top hockey minds in the country to bring about the best national team possible to represent Canada in international competition.
A year after the new body was formed Hay retired as an industrialist and devoted most of his time to Hockey Canada after succeeding Maxwell Bell as president. Hay started a new hockey development scheme that featured a new Certification Program for coaches, a scholarship and bursary program for students wishing to study and play hockey at Canadian universities, and an annual commitment of funds devoted to hockey research.
Hay was also a key figure in the negotiations that brought about the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. His administrative vision and the respect he was accorded in both the amateur and pro ranks made Hay a valuable part of this historic set of games.
Numerous honours were bestowed upon Hay in addition to his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame. In deference to a distinguished alumnus, the University of Saskatchewan presented him with an honourary doctorate in 1965. He was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1974.