The sons of Philip and Alice carried on the piano business, and also ventured into politics.Although the family no longer has a stake, the name survives as Layton Audio, a stereo store, and Jack Layton spoke proudly of his family’s entrepreneurial background in Montreal during this year’s election campaign.

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Over the mantle of the stone fireplace, there’s even a framed portrait of the Queen.

Jack Layton pretty much lived at the club during the summers of his childhood and teenage years.

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The night was, at least in his memory, “fabulous.” The kids who always hung out at the club mixed with those who were seeing it from the inside for the first time.

It casts him, of course, in a favourable light that presages his later political persona.

That didn’t stop him from immigrating to Montreal and embarking on a successful career as a piano tuner and salesman.

Far from ostentatious, the Layton residence is a tasteful piece of mid-century modern, a sort of flattened A-frame up from the lake on Birch Hill Road, where the comfortable houses are set back beneath tall trees.

“I was scared, but I was upset because I thought they were judging these French kids.” The disgruntled grown-ups threatened to scupper the youth club.

“You can’t disband it,” he declared, “we’re canceling it.” More than four decades later, he tells the story with rising indignation, warming to the tale.

I casually checked the site for several months, replying to some, ignoring others and trying not to be devastated by unanswered messages.