Queen portrait set to return to Winnipeg
Josh Crabb, CTV Winnipeg
Published Thursday, February 26, 2015 10:18PM CST
Last Updated Friday, February 27, 2015 6:59PM CST
Canada's historic ties to the Commonwealth means we've always had a close connection to the Queen.
In Winnipeg, that relationship may be best displayed through a giant portrait of Her Majesty which used to hang in the rafters of the old Winnipeg Arena.
John Mulligan remembers the portrait vividly.
"I remember the old arena. I used to sell popcorn in the stands and she was always there," said Mulligan.
Pulled down in 1999, it made a brief stop in Souris, Man. but, for the most part, the portrait has been stored away in a Whitby, Ont. warehouse where it remains today.
The portrait was commissioned in 1979 by Lieutenant Governor Bud Jobin and painted by artist Gilbert Burch.
It was supposed to be displayed at a museum in Whitby but that never happened and the caretaker of the portrait was determined to see it return to Winnipeg.
Soon, she'll be back after more than a 15-year absence.
The giant five-by-seven metre portrait will ride a train from Whitby to Winnipeg in a couple of weeks thanks to local businessmen Jamie Boychuk and Michael Cory.
The two men bought the painting with a plan.
"To bring it back to Winnipeg,” said Boychuk from the warehouse in Whitby. “That was the real reason. It's not anything other than getting it back home where it belongs."
Local historian Christian Cassidy said the portrait is a piece of art that makes Winnipeg unique.
"So I think it's great that we took it back and that a private individual was willing to step forward and repatriate it back to the city," Cassidy said.
A new queen emerged when the NHL returned to Winnipeg.
A group of fans started dressing in regal outfits and attending Jets’ games.
Her majesty and the three royal guards sewed together costumes and created a movement called “Return Our Queen” to bring the portrait back to Winnipeg.
In a statement, Matthew Janzen (aka the Queen), said, "I am overjoyed that the commissioned portrait is returning to its rightful resting place. Tears of joy."
Now, the question becomes where to put it.
'It needs to be here,” said Mulligan. “It needs to be in the new arena."
But True North Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns and operates the MTS Centre, said it's too big and would obstruct third level views of the ice.
Boychuk said he and Cory are still deciding on a place to put the painting.
As for the cost? Boychuk would only say it's "priceless.”