Jessie Mary Haigh Kaye

June 29, 1923September 12, 2020

Jessie died peacefully on September 12, 2020 at the age of 97 under the watchful care of the fine caregivers at the Chartwell Willowgrove Long-Term Care Residence, Ancaster, ON. Jessie was predeceased by her husband Donald Charles (2011) and her daughter Leslie (2010). Fondly remembered by sons David (Lynne), Douglas (Barbara), Mark (Linda), and Matthew (Christina) and son-in-law William (Monica). She was the proud grandmother of Jeremy (Jennifer), Robin, Lyndsay, Peter, Eric and Nicolas and great-grandmother of Calvin and Sarah.

Jessie was born in Kamloops, BC in 1923, the youngest in a family of five. When Jessie was 11 years old, her family moved to the Kitsilano area of Vancouver, BC where Jessie, according to family legend, rode her bicycle to Kitsilano High School – uphill both ways. In 1942, while working in Jasper, AB as a telegraph operator, Jessie met Donald Kaye from Niagara Falls, ON, a young Captain in the Canadian Army. In 1946, on her way from Jasper to Chicago, Illinois for a job, she stopped en route in Kingston, ON for a visit. Don proposed to Jessie and they were married November 23rd, 1946, establishing a formidable partnership. And Jessie never made it to Chicago!

In 1947 Jessie contracted Polio, a disease that made her life more challenging but never prevented her from accomplishing the tasks she set out to conquer. Over the next 18 years, five children followed as Jessie and Don moved back and forth across the country for various military postings. In 1964, while in Vancouver, Don retired from the Armed Forces and the family moved to Stoney Creek, ON where Don took up a new career teaching secondary school. After two years in Stoney Creek, the family settled in Deep River, ON. In 1982 they moved to Hamilton, ON which brought them closer to their children and their families.

Life has a way of delivering the information one needs, exactly when one is ready to act on it. It was in 1965, that Jessie first became involved with the Tibetan Aid Society. Jessie always had a passion for reading and faithfully supported local bookshops. It was shortly after reading Dervla Murphy’s book, Tibetan Foothold, in which the author documents the plight of Tibetans and the many ways in which Canadians have assisted them, that Jessie saw a notice announcing an important event in Vancouver mounted to raise money for Tibetan refugees. For $2.00 Jessie joined the society. This initial action launched her ongoing sponsorship of numerous Tibetan children and grandmothers – an association which has lasted over 55 years. Jessie’s family intends to continue this sponsorship in her name. Over the years, Jessie took active roles in other important social justice initiatives such as Amnesty International, Tools for Peace, Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam to name just a few. She was never hesitant to unleash her thoughts and concerns in letterform and there was always a petition for visitors to sign waiting at the front door. Jessie adeptly combined her political advocacy with her skills in intricate cake decorating which was consistently in demand by friends and family. In 2004 Jessie received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, an honour she accepted modestly.

The family would like to thank Juliet, Marilyn, Elvira, Cynthia, Letty, Mary Ann, Mila, Myrna and Raquel (in order of service) for their thoughtful care over the years, not that Jessie needed their attention of course! In keeping with Jessie’s direction, cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at a later date when possible. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Trans-Himalayan Aid Society, 1183 Melville St., Vancouver, BC V6E 2X5 or to Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Ave. E, Ottawa, ON K1N 1H9 would be appreciated. Funeral arrangements entrusted to MARLATT FUNERAL HOME, 615 Main St. E., Hamilton. On-line tributes may be left at


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Jessie Mary Haigh Kaye

have a memory or condolence to add?

Joyce Winfield

September 28, 2020

A name from the past, as it is so many years since this delightful lady and her husband moved away from Deep River. I knew her through St. Barnabas Church and will never forget "Jessie's Cow", and her dedication to fundraising. My sincere condolences to all the family.

Bett and Drew Leverette

September 24, 2020

Just learned about Jessie's passing in the Globe and Mail. She was a lovely lady - kind, gentle, with a sharp mind and a great sense of humour. We always considered her an extended part of our family.
She certainly set an example for others to follow and her legacy will live on. She was a wonderful person to know.
Bett and Drew

Lana Lowe

September 22, 2020

The Children's International Learning Centre (CILC), a local Hamilton grass-roots organization with a vision that states: "A world of care and respect for all people and our environment." shares much of Jessie's passion for social justice.

Jessie was a long-time supporter of the CILC and her thoughtful concern over the work we do will be missed.

I'm glad to have known her.

In fond remembrance,
Lana Lowe,
Executive Director,
Children's International Learning Centre
Hamilton, Ontario

Anne Pollard

September 18, 2020

Dear family,
I am so sorry for your loss. Jessie was a dear friend and role model. We met when I moved to Hamilton in 1991 and joined Amnesty International. I got to visit with her while she was in Shalom Village and I treasure those times. She will always remain in my heart.
- Anne Pollard


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