The story of Jack

From the latest issue of the print edition, John Geddes tells Jack Layton’s life story.

When Layton became the club’s “junior commodore”—inevitable for a boy who always seemed to end up running things—he realized he might actually be able to do something to protest the inequity. And it could be fun. The club held weekly teen dances in the summer. Layton scoured its rule book. “Buried in the rules was that everybody can bring one guest, except the junior commodore, who can bring more than one. No limit was proscribed,” he says. Layton and his buddies invited the whole town. “So every kid who wasn’t a member, I signed in.” That meant a lot of low-income, francophone teenagers…

The next morning, Jack was summoned down to the club and chewed out. “I was called into the boardroom,” he says. “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. Layton didn’t let them have the satisfaction. “You can’t disband it,” he declared, “we’re canceling it.”

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