Hays is a hamlet in southern Alberta, Canada within the Municipal District of Taber. It is located at the intersection of Highway 524 and Highway 875 between Vauxhall and Redcliff. The Bow River is 3.3 kilometres (2.1 mi) to the north of the hamlet and the Oldman River is approximately 19 kilometres (12 mi) to the south. These two rivers converge to form the South Saskatchewan River approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) to the southeast.
Hays is named after David Walker Hays (1878–1958), chief engineer and manager of the Canada Land and Irrigation Company from 1911 to 1951. Hays celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2002.
The area was devoted to short-grass prairie ranching during the late 1800s and early 1900s. As early as 1912, a canal and irrigation works were constructed to deliver water to the area from the Bow River at Carseland, but no land was irrigated there until 1952 after PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration), an agency of the Canada Department of Agriculture, purchased the assets of the Canada Land and Irrigation Company in 1950 for $2.25 million. It began a five year construction program to renovate and expand the existing irrigation and water delivery works, and re-settle farmers to the area. The area was administered by PFRA as part of the Bow River Irrigation Project until 1974 when the irrigation works, its operation and maintenance were taken over by the formation of the Bow River Irrigation District. Currently about 33,000 acres (130 km2) are irrigated in the vicinity of Hays. A unique feature of the landscape is the allotment of land by irregular shaped parcels, rather than regular shaped quarter sections. This was a design feature by PFRA engineers to minimize development costs, and to integrate surface drainage with water delivery to the irrigated parcels. This feature somewhat restricted the later development of these parcels for sprinkler irrigation.
The Municipal District of Taber's 2013 municipal census counted a population of 163 in Hays, a 16.4% increase over its 2008 municipal census population of 140.
The hamlet has a school serving 81 students from Kindergarten through Grade 9. When students reach Grade 10, they are bussed to the nearby Town of Vauxhall, which is approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) to the west via Highway 524 and Highway 36. Most students are bussed from the many farms just outside of Hays.
Hays contains a small campground, coffee shop, general store/post office and Liquor Store,volunteer fire department, public library, hockey arena, hall, school, and pumphouse.
- Alberta Municipal Affairs (2010-04-01). "Specialized and Rural Municipalities and Their Communities" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- Between the Forks, Hays 1952-2002. Hays 50th Book Committee. 2002. Warwick Printing Co.Ltd., Lethbridge, Alberta. p.198
- Hays 25th Book Committee (1977). From Sod to Silver. Lethbridge, Alberta: The Herald Printers. p. 10.
- Bow River Irrigation District, Vauxhall, AB. 2009.
- "MD Connection (newsletter): Fountain of Youth?" (PDF). Municipal District of Taber. Summer 2013. p. 7. Retrieved August 29, 2013.