Born near Carstairs, Alberta, Harry was one of 8 children. With his brothers Tom and Jack he carried on his father’s work with purebred Holsteins. Better quality and more milk from each cow were the results and Hays cows successfully exhibited and marketed internationally.
A proud Calgarian, Harry was a leader. He gave back through his involvement with Rotary, as a leader in agricultural organizations, as a visionary in purebred livestock development, as an auctioneer and a real estate developer. A man of ideas, Harry established the Haysboro community in Calgary in the 1950s. The Hays Breakfast on the first Sunday of the Calgary Stampede dates back to 1952.
As a politician, Harry served as mayor of Calgary from 1958 to 1963, as the Liberal M.P. for Calgary South and Minister of Agriculture from 1963 to 1965, and then in the Senate. As proud Westerner, he champions the interests of people too often ignored in Ottawa.
Through careful study and selective breeding, he developed the Hays Converter breed of beef cattle officially recognized in 1975 by the Canadian National Livestock Records office – a Canadian first!
Harry believed that his most important contribution was as co-chair of the joint Senate/House of Commons committee that resulted in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. The only major amendment to our 1867 Constitution, created by and for Canadians, it ensures freedom of expression, equality and democracy for all.
Though he died in 1982, the Harry Hays legacy lives on. The federal building in downtown Calgary bears his name, Westerners know they can make a difference in Ottawa, and the rights of individuals are assured.
Of Harry Hays another Westerner, Joe Clark, once said, “He stood tall and cast a shadow that was admired across the country.”
28 April 2016 draft by David Finch – Historian and Dan Hays