Isabel Hayes (nee Dunn) was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on June 17, 1900, and came to Canada in her early 20s. In 1931 she married James Hayes and spent a few years at Cherry Nook Gardens (at Queen and Greenwood), then moved several times in the East End, finally living on her own in the Coxwell and Danforth area until she was 100. She was widowed in 1961.
Despite having eight children including a set of twins, Mrs. Hayes was often employed outside the home, and worked until she was in her late 70s. In the 1930s, she was a domestic for Lady Moss as well as Sir Ernest McMillan. She also worked at St. Michael’s Hospital and at Robinson Candies. She was a caregiver for the children of former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.
She now lives in a nursing home in Richmond Hill. Up until she was 107, she was in very good health and could get around on her own. At the present time she is very frail, said her grandson Michael Dumas, but she still has that fighting Scottish heart and is a going concern. She loves music and dance. He recalled his grandmother performing a Highland fling on her 100th birthday. He said that she loved to bake and made great apple pies, and the best grape jelly from grapes she picked in her garden when she lived on Broadview Avenue.
Mrs. Hayes has 30 grandchildren, and the last gift she gave each one was in 2007 when they all received a small statue of her favorite saint, St. Francis of Assisi.
There are now 90 descendants of Isabel Hayes. All eight children are still living and in good health and married, most over 40 years and some over 50. As well as the 30 grandchildren, her dynasty includes 50 great great grandchildren and two great great great grandchildren.
When asked for the secret of her long life, Mrs. Hayes said that it is her faith and daily prayers that sustain her.