The riding was formed in 2004, carved out of the Calgary-Shaw electoral district. The district is named after former Calgary mayor and Canadian Senator Harry Hays who represented the electoral district of Calgary South as a Member of Parliament.
In its present boundaries the electoral district covers the deep south east corner of Calgary and includes the neighbourhoods of McKenzie Lake, McKenzie Towne, Quarry Park, Douglas Glen, and Douglasdale.
The electoral district was created in the 2003 boundary redistribution from Calgary-Shaw. The 2010 boundary redistribution split the riding in half to form most of Calgary-South East due to significant growth of new communities in the south east quadrant of Calgary.
Legal description from the Statutes of Alberta 2003, Electoral Divisions Act.
Starting at the intersection of Barlow Trail SE with Glenmore Trail SE; then 1. east along Glenmore Trail SE to the Calgary city boundary; 2. generally south and west along the city boundary to the right bank of the Bow River; 3. north along the right bank of the Bow River to the north boundary of Sec. 13, Twp. 23, Rge. 1 W5; 4. east along the north boundary of Sec. 13 and the north boundary of Sec. 16 in Twp. 23, Rge. 29 W4 to Barlow Trail SE; 5. north along Barlow Trail SE to the starting point.
The electoral district was created in the boundary redistribution of 2004 out of Calgary-Shaw after that electoral district became one of the most populated electoral districts in Alberta.
The first election held in the district in 2004 saw Progressive Conservative candidate Arthur Johnston win the election with a landslide majority taking nearly 64% of the popular vote while the second place candidate trailed far behind with just 22%.
Johnston stood for re-election in the 2008 provincial election. He won a higher popular vote but his percentage of victory dropped as the Liberal and Wildrose Alliance candidates made gains. However Johnston held the district with almost 55% of the popular vote.
Johnston announced his retirement as incumbent after being defeated twice for the Progressive Conservative nomination in Calgary-Hays and in the new electoral district of Calgary-South East.
In 2012, PC Candidate Ric McIver defeated Wayne Anderson, contender for the Wild Rose Party, to become the second representative for the Hays district since its creation.