Jack Layton had deep roots in Toronto-Danforth, the riding that he represented in Parliament. Now an oak tree planted in his honour will symbolize the continuation of Jack’s legacy as it grows, as the community will continue to grow.

September 17, 2013

TORONTO-DANFORTH – Former NDP leader Jack Layton was celebrated over the weekend when people gathered for a plaque unveiling at Withrow Park.

On Saturday, September 14, the Toronto Danforth NDP Riding Association unveiled a plaque next to an oak tree planted in memory of Layton. Elected officials, including Craig Scott MP, Peter Tabuns MPP and City Councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis, along with Mr. Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow, were all present for the unveiling.

Layton’s widow said she was honoured to attend the afternoon ceremony where she spoke to a crowd of supporters.

“An oak tree is strong, it’s sturdy and I heard it changes colour from green to orange,” Chow said. “An oak tree is such a perfect memorial – with deep roots and spreading branches – and with acorns that mean future growth.”

“I know that many (people) were inspired by Jack’s message of hope and optimism and love,” Chow said. “I certainly feel the love here today.”

Chow, who said she misses her late husband’s charismatic smile most, said Layton was particularly fond of the Logan Street park.

“Jack loved this park because it is such a wonderful meeting place for the community,” said Chow. “He loved cycling through here and coming to barbecue here.”

Toronto-Danforth MP Craig Scott also spoke about the similarities a strong oak and Mr. Layton share.

“Jack was a team builder and he left behind a team, so he lives on,” Scott said. “He had very deep roots in this community, but a young tree with newly planted roots is a tree that represents the continuation of Jack’s legacy as it grows, the community will continue to grow and he will be a part of it.”

“It’s very important to realize that Jack was very committed to the community, not just within Toronto, but within the country,” said one of the organizers, Mary Anne Beamish. “He was very active within this community and we were so lucky to have a representative like him, both as a city councillor and later when he went to Ottawa.”

While Layton’s memory is held in high esteem amongst his colleagues, it is equally regarded by the many Torontonians he served.

“I came out in memory of Jack Layton, who was our city councillor when we moved into the neighborhood and from there our federal representative and of course, the leader of the (NDP),” said Ron McKay. “I came to celebrate the memory of all the things he stood for, that I also hold dear myself, the values of inclusiveness and community, so I just wanted to come down and honour him.”

Area resident Paul Gauthier met Layton three decades ago and later joined his campaign.

“I met Jack around 1986. I was one of the organizers from a bowl-a-thon and we had mailed all the city councillors and MPPs. Jack showed up to bowl and support us,” said Gauthier “We both had the same oncologist when I was working for his campaign. I had to go back for treatment and the first thing I knew was I got a get-well card from Jack and Olivia. It brought tears to my eyes.

“He’s just a fantastic person and I want to keep his memory alive.”

Source: InsideToronto article