Jack Layton's romance with fellow politician Olivia Chow has been well documented in the press. But who was Layton's first wife, Sally Halford, the mother of his two children?

Layton and Halford married in 1969. They had known each other since childhood in Hudson, Quebec and were high-school sweethearts. Halford had been a cheerleader. Layton married her when he was just 19.

Most biographies now skip ahead to 1983, when the couple divorces 14 years after marrying.

In the interim period, they had two children together. Mike Layton is now a Toronto city councillor and daughter Sarah works at the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Little else is known about Layton's media-shy first wife.

After the couple divorced, Halford remarried and took the last name Roy. She went on to become vice-president of human resources at George Brown College in Toronto, according to Maclean's. She has since retired.

Halford wasn't interested in the political life Layton was leading, according to Toronto Life. Whether that helped contribute to their break-up remains a mystery.

That doesn't mean relations soured between Layton and his ex-wife.

Chow, who married Layton in 1988, has said she is close to his former partner. The couple shared joint custody and on Christmas Eves Layton and Chow would often sleep over at Sally's home so that the children could celebrate with both families.

While Roy has stayed mostly out of the media spotlight over the years, she has emerged on a few occasions.

When her son Mike announced he was running for Toronto City Council, she appeared with him.

sally halford layton wife

In a piece on Mike Layton's candidacy, the Toronto Sun wrote about how Roy would pull out a clipping of a story written by Christie Blatchford about Mike's response to his father's defeat in the Toronto mayoral race of 1991.

"She is going to bawl her eyes out this year," Layton told the Sun at the time of his successful bid for council.

Blatchford, whose column Roy seemed to treasure, would go on to famously criticize the honours given to Layton after his death and his "vainglorious" final letter.

Roy was a part of those ceremonies in honour of Layton, albeit on the sidelines. She appeared at the visitation with Layton's casket on Parliament Hill and can be seen looking sombre in photos from that day.

In a letter to the Hudson Village from 2004, Layton said Roy is spending time consulting and travelling after retirement.

In the message, Layton also mentions the sadness he still feels about the death of his own father. "I'm sure he's enjoying the election campaign from his new vantage point in the heavens," Layton wrote.

Perhaps they're watching together now.

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  • Facts Of Layton's Life

    As Canada prepares to remember Jack Layton on the first anniversary of his untimely death, we take a look at 11 things you may not have known about the former NDP leader.

  • 11. Progressive Conservative Lineage

    Layton's father <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Layton" target="_hplink">Robert Layton</a> (pictured at Jack's graduation from McGill in 1971) was a Progressive Conservative MP and served as Minister of State for Mines in Brian Mulroney's cabinet from 1984-1986. Robert started out as a member of the Liberal Party, but shifted to the PCs in the 1980s. Layton's grandfather, Gilbert Layton, was a Union Nationale MNA in Quebec. The Union Nationale was a conservative party. He served as a minister in Maurice Duplessis' government before resigning in 1939 over its opposition to conscription for the Second World War.

  • 10. Descendent Of A Father Of Confederation

    <a href="http://boards.ancestry.com/thread.aspx?mv=flat&m=597&p=localities.northam.canada.newbrunswick.albert" target="_hplink">Layton's Mother Doris Elizabeth (Steeves) was a grand-niece of a Father of Confederation, William Steeves</a>.

  • 9. He Was A Frat Boy

    <a href="http://sigmachi.ca/en/news-articles/statement-sigma-chi-re-passing-brother-hon-jack-layton/" target="_hplink">Layton joined the Sigma Chi fraternity</a> while studying at McGill. Here he is seen in a photo from his high-school years.

  • 8. He Was A Doctor

    <a href="http://www.yorku.ca/yfile/archive/index.asp?Article=17461" target="_hplink">Layton got his PhD in political science from York University in 1983</a>. He got his MA in political science from York and his BA from McGill.

  • 7. He Married Young

    <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Layton" target="_hplink">Layton married Sally Halford</a>, his high-school sweetheart, when he was 19. They had two children together, Mike and Sarah. The couple divorced in 1983 after 14 years of marriage.

  • 6. Olivia Chow's Mother Didn't Like Him

    <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1043197--jack-and-olivia-love-at-first-sight" target="_hplink">When he first began dating Olivia Chow, her mother was not a fan</a>. He wasn't a doctor or lawyer and he wasn't Chinese. A language mistake helped win him her approval. After having dinner at the Chow home, Layton attempted to thank his girlfriend's mother for the food. A mistake in tone led him to say "thank you for the good sex" in Cantonese, according to the <em>Toronto Star</em>. The exchange resulted in laughter that began a thawing of relations between Layton and Chow's family.

  • 5. He Was A Trekkie

    <a href="http://thestar.blogs.com/politics/2009/05/where-no-ndp-leader-has-gone-before.html" target="_hplink">Layton and Chow were big fans of Star Trek</a>, even having custom uniforms made, according to the <em>Toronto Star</em>.

  • 4. He Was Against The Skydome...

    <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/archives/discover/guess-who/jack-layton-city-halls-tired-but-victorious-warrior.html" target="_hplink">Layton was against public financing for the building of the Skydome</a> (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto. <a href="http://torontoist.com/2011/08/councillor_jack_layton/" target="_hplink">He later called for an inquiry</a> into the debt that resulted from the project. Layton, then a Toronto city councillor, is seen here in 1989.

  • 3. And The Olympics

    <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Layton" target="_hplink">Layton fought against Toronto's bid for the 1996 Olympic Games</a>. The bid failed. His opposition was widely viewed as contributing to his defeat in a run for the Toronto mayoralty in 1991.

  • 2. He Was A Pirate?

    During the 2008 election campaign, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgJuzfoNAkg" target="_hplink">Layton credited torrents, a form of peer-to-peer sharing, with helping make democracy work</a>. He also criticized the throttling used by many Internet service providers to slow peer-to-peer traffic, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/16/traffic-throttling-bell-rogers_n_1791718.html" target="_hplink">an issue that's still very much in the news today</a>.

  • 1. Third Time's A Charm

    <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Layton" target="_hplink">Layton lost two federal races before being elected to the House of Commons</a>. He lost in Toronto's Rosedale riding in 1993 and in the riding of Danforth in 1997. He eventually won that Danforth seat in the 2004 general election, more than a year after becoming leader of the NDP. He would go on to lead the NDP to Official Opposition status amid the 'Orange Wave' of 2011. He died a little more than three months after the election on August 22, 2011.