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Hayes, Kate Simpson (1856–1945)

Kate Simpson Hayes.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A21488

One of the earliest woman authors and journalists in western Canada, Kate Simpson Hayes was born in New Brunswick in 1856. She arrived at Prince Albert, North-West Territories in 1879 and, following a failed marriage, moved to Regina with her two children in the mid-1880s. She soon met Nicholas Flood Davin, owner of the newspaper The Leader, and their nine-year relationship resulted in the birth of two children out of wedlock. Hayes first owned a millinery shop and then worked as librarian for the legislature of the North-West Territories. As “Mary Markwell,” Hayes wrote for The Leader and penned plays and comedic sketches that were performed in a number of prairie towns. Her first book, Prairie Pot-Pourri, was published in 1895. In 1900 Hayes moved to Winnipeg, where she edited the women’s page of the Manitoba Free Press. Her writings reveal conservative social views, including opposition to Woman Suffrage. Hayes also worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway, promoting the emigration of woman domestics from Britain. She was a charter member of the Canadian Women’s Press Club, and club president in 1906. Hayes continued to write until well into her seventies. She died in Victoria, BC on January 15, 1945.

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Further Reading

Maguire, Constance A. 1998a. “‘Leaving the Hearth Fire Untended’: Women and Public Pursuits in the Journalism of Kate Simpson Hayes,” Prairie Forum 23 (1): 67–92; ——. 1998b. “Kate Simpson Hayes, Agnes Agatha Hammell, and the ‘Slur of Illegitimacy,’” Saskatchewan History 50 (2): 7–23.
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