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NDP Leader Jack Layton smiles during an interview with Lisa LaFlamme on budget day 2011. Layton, the beloved NDP leader, died Monday after a battle with cancer.
Jack Layton was remembered Monday as a regular guy and terrific political leader that everyone liked, as friends and political foes alike paid tribute to the New Democrat leader hours after learning that he had succumbed to cancer.

On the quiet side street where Layton lived with his politician wife Olivia Chow, friends and area residents stopped by, some bearing flowers.

"He was someone you could have a beer with," said neighbourhood resident Ted Hawkins, who laid a single red rose on the doorstep "as a little bit of a tribute" to the longtime political presence.

"He was a very down-to-earth person."

Sarah Hastie, a longtime area resident who also delivered a flower to his home, said she had hoped Layton would somehow beat the disease that forced him to step aside last month from his party-leader duties.

"Jack was such a fighter, and I was just always keeping my fingers crossed that this might be a battle that he would win," Hastie said.

"It's a terrible thing for his family but it's an even greater loss for the country."

A family friend emerged briefly from the home to request privacy.

Layton, 61, died early Monday barely three months after an election campaign in which he gamely led his New Democrats to Official Opposition status in the Commons.

Politicians of all stripes were quick to praise Layton.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Layton had told him when they spoke last month that they would meet in the House of Commons in the fall.

"This, sadly, will no longer come to pass," Harper said in a statement.

"On behalf of all Canadians, I salute Jack's contribution to public life -- a contribution that will be sorely missed."

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said the public Layton and the private Layton were one and the same -- a naturally upbeat person that everyone liked even if they disagreed with his political views.

Layton showed "tremendous class," and never complained about being stricken, and never showed any rancour, Rae said.

"He just saw it as another twist of fate that he was going to have to deal with."

Rae said it was too soon to say what impact Layton's death would have on federal politics.

Flags were lowered in the city where Layton cut his political teeth over an 18-year span as councillor, a function now served by his son Mike Layton.

"Jack was a fighter and he will be missed in Canadian politics," said Mayor Rob Ford, who credited Layton with his own political successes.

"No one taught me more about how City Hall worked."

Ontario's Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty called Layton a "tireless champion" for people and communities and said Canadians would "miss his passion, hard work and fighting spirit."

At Layton's closed constituency office, people stopped by to express their condolences and to drop off flowers.

One of them, Philip Girard, said he wanted to show solidarity with those who had supported Layton.

"Political leadership is a rare thing, and he possessed it in good measure," Girard said. "It will be hard to replace that."

Across town at the Layton home, Cheuk Kwan, a longtime friend of Chow's, said he was "really saddened" by Layton's death even if it was not unexpected.

"I thought Jack had done a superhuman job of bringing the NDP to where it is right now," Kwan said.

"It's sad to see the party has lost a great leader."

Layton's Ontario counterpart, Andrea Horwath, said she would miss Layton as she heads into her first provincial campaign as party leader next month.

"Not being able to phone up Jack and say 'Here's how I'm feeling' and get that kind of advice, it'll be a loss for sure,"' Horwath said.

Wayne Hanley, national president of UFCW Canada, the country's largest private-sector union, said Layton "worked tirelessly" toward creating a better Canada.

"His passing is a great loss for all Canadians," Hanley said. "His tenacity to fight to make Canada a more compassionate and equitable country will be missed."