Hays Canyon or sometimes called "Jack Hayes Canyon" was the area in hills behind Piedmont. It was named for Col. John "Jack" Coffee Hays (1817-1883) who lived in the area from 185?-1883. His estate Fernwood was located approx where Moraga Ave, (Hays Canyon Rd.) Hwy 13 and Thornhill Dr. (Thorn Rd) meet. Hays Canyon included the whole area that is now Montclair from the Piedmont border and over to and including Lake Temescal and parts of Shepherd Canyon Rd. Some of Hays Canyon was in the then, Piedmont District and some in both the Brooklyn and Oakland Townships. The main road to the canyon was called the "Hays (Hayes) Canyon Rd". which traveled through what is now Piedmont. It is now known as Moraga Ave,
Around 1852, Hays bought large sections of land in the East Bay. Hays negotiated with the Peraltas in good faith. This land included the property marked as "Plot 29" on old maps of Oakland. It is the where he built his estate Fernwood. Hays died at home April 22, 1883, at the age of 66. After his death Fernwood was sold to William J. Dingee.
In 1891, the S.F. Call described Hays Canyon "the romantic valley just beyond the ridge that receives its name from the famous Colonel Jack Hays" and "the beautiful home of W. J. Dingee" and the "fine places of Mrs. Kohler , Judge EM Gibson, Mrs. Fields and others" 1.
Residents of Hays Canyon included:
- E. M. Gibson
- J.H.Medau Dairy
- Mrs. C.A. Kohler - widow of Andrew Kohler of Kohler & Chase Pianos
- William J. Dingee
- Joseph B. Fields
- William Shepherd
- William H. Gwinn Family
- George Logan - Lake Temescal
- Simon Morrill -
- George L. Pardee (not related)