Hun­dreds ga­ther as Hud­son un­veils Jack Lay­ton Park

Idyl­lic wa­ter­front set­ting tri­bute to fa­vou­rite son

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

The Town of Hud­son was pro­mi­nent­ly thrust on­to the na­tio­nal and in­ter­na­tio­nal spot­light Sa­tur­day when the for­mer Hud­son Ma­ri­na was of­fi­cial­ly re­na­med to ho­nour the town’s fa­vou­rite son, the late Jack Lay­ton.

Lay­ton’s fa­mi­ly, in­clu­ding wi­dow Oli­via Chow, mo­ther Do­ris Lay­ton, Jack’s adult chil­dren and much lo­ved and oft brag­ged about grand­daugh­ter, Bea­trice, among other grand­chil­dren and fa­mi­ly mem­bers, were on hand on the ve­ry warm, sun­ny af­ter­noon. Po­li­ti­cal at­ten­dees in­clu­ded NDP Lea­der and Op­po­si­tion Lea­der Thomas Mul­cair, Vau­dreuilSou­langes MP Ja­mie Ni­cholls, MNA Yvon Mar­coux and scores more “who made the trip from the hill,” ac­cor­ding to Lay­ton’s long-time Chief of Staff, Anne Mc­Grath.

“He would have lo­ved this,” Mc­Grath ad­ded, saying that dri­ving in­to Hud­son was like ta­king a trip down me­mo­ry lane through Jack’s eyes.

“Jack told so ma­ny sto­ries about gro­wing up in Hud­son... As I drove in­to town I told my hus­band some of them when we pas­sed places like the high school or the yacht club,” she said.

Du­ring the wel­come speech, Mayor Mi­chael El­liott sha­red his own sto­ry in­vol­ving the Hud­son Yacht Club and a you­th­ful Jack, who even then had vi­sions of ac­ti­vism in his mind. Ser­ving as the club’s youth club pre­sident, Lay­ton de­ci­ded to exer­cise his right to in­vite who­me­ver he wan­ted to an ex­clu­sive yacht club par­ty, re­gard­less of if they could af­ford the club’s mem­ber­ship fees.

“So he in­vi­ted the en­tire town of Hud­son,” El­liott said, to much laugh­ter.

Now anyone who wants to en­joy an idyl­lic and pic­tu­resque slice of Hud­son wa­ter­front pro­per­ty can do so - and wi­thout an in­vi­ta­tion - at the land­sca­ped park that boasts benches, a wal­king path and pic­nic tables.

For her part, a smi­ling and up­beat Chow said Jack would have been “ve­ry ho­nou­red and tou­ched” by the park bea­ring his name.

Mul­cair al­so ad­ded a note of le­vi­ty to the pro­cee­dings, jo­king that Que­bec’s ma­ny orange construction cones were, in rea­li­ty, tri­butes to the NDP orange wave.

And in ad­di­tion to inau­gu­ra­ting the park, lo­cal ar­tist Da­niel Gautier un­vei­led a fra­med tri­bute pain­ting of Lay­ton in which his pier­cing blue eyes were pro­mi­nent­ly fea­tu­red.

Royal re­grets

El­liott pas­sed along a few re­grets from those in­vi­ted to the event, yet who were unable to at­tend.

One such re­gret came from Bu­ckin­gham Pa­lace, while others were sent from Prime Mi­nis­ter Ste­phen Har­per and Que­bec Pre­mier Jean Cha­rest. Those who did make it to the well-at­ten­ded event were trea­ted to award win­ning mu­sic courtesy of the West­wood Sr. High School se­nior band, while the town ad­di­tio­nal­ly gave wel­come gifts in the form of re-usable Town of Hud­son bags.

Park his­to­ry

Jack Lay­ton Park is the fi­nal phase of the San­dy Beach Nature Park pro­ject that was be­gun in 2008 by then mayor Eli­za­beth Cor­ker and her town coun­cil. The new­ly na­med park links to a di­verse trail net­work that ends at San­dy Beach and which in­cludes char­ming woo­den bridges and over­looks.

The park al­so boasts a pu­blic boat launch. The Town says there are plans to add re­crea­tio­nal wa­ter ren­tals in the fu­ture.

Lay­ton, who pas­sed away af­ter a long bat­tle with can­cer, died Aug. 22, 2011. He was 61.

The for­mer NDP lea­der, who hai­led from Hud­son, was born in­to a po­li­ti­cal fa­mi­ly. His fa­ther, Robert Lay­ton, was a Con­ser­va­tive MP, and Lay­ton fol­lo­wed in his fa­ther’s footsteps ear­ly. Not on­ly did he serve as youth club pre­sident at the Hud­son Yacht Club, but Lay­ton was elec­ted student coun­cil pre­sident at the then Hud­son High School (now re­na­med West­wood Sr. High School).

The fa­mi­ly mo­ved from Hud­son to To­ron­to in 1970.

PHO­TO KRIS­TI­NA EDSON

Oli­via Chow, Jack Lay­ton’s wi­dow, sha­red a laugh with NDP Lea­der Thomas Mul­cair and Mul­cair’s wife, Ca­the­rine Pin­has.

PHO­TO KRIS­TI­NA EDSON

The pic­tu­resque wa­ter­front park al­so in­cludes a boat launch.

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