Queen Elizabeth reigns over Polo Park
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Winnipeggers who want to remember Queen Elizabeth in a big way can do it while shopping.
The giant painting of Queen Elizabeth, which used to hang from the rafters of the old Winnipeg arena, will be displayed in the Polo Park shopping centre for the next two weeks.
The owner of the painting, Ron D’Errico, CEO of Impact Security, said he is glad the five-by-seven-metre portrait he received as a gift will be in public view. He said it is fitting people can see it now when so many people are remembering the monarch, whose funeral will be held Monday.
“For a long time it was in storage and couildn’t be seen,” D’Errico said on Friday.
“I’m sure it will bring out memories of the queen, but also memories of the Jets. It was the era when you could look up during a Jets game or a concert and see it.”
D’Errico said it was a giant effort to get such a large portrait into the mall. It is being displayed in the south atrium near the former Sears store.
“It takes 11 or 12 people to put this together for display and then it takes 11 or 12 people to put it away,” he said.
But, if anyone who wants to see it misses it before it is taken down on Sept. 29, D’Errico said they will be able to see it again soon.
“I will have it on display at our Plessis Road headquarters,” he said.
“One day a month people will be able to come because it will be open to the public. I’ve got the space and the equipment to hang it all ready to go.”
The painting, which was unveiled in the arena in 1979, was commissioned by Manitoba lieutenant governor Francis Laurence Jobin and painted by artist Gilbert Burch.
The portrait was a longtime fixture in the arena; both Jets and Manitoba Moose players admitted they used it as target practice for their pucks. Just before the Pan Am Games in 1999, it was taken down, in two pieces, and put in a warehouse in Whitby, Ont. That’s where it stayed until a CN Rail executive bought it, wanting to return it to Winnipeg, and later gifted it to D’Errico.
D’Errico said he is glad the public can see the painting now and in the future.
“I believe it belongs to the people of Winnipeg.”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.