June 25, 2019

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Portrait of Queen will be home again soon

Locals buy famous painting

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/2/2015 (1578 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A giant piece of Winnipeg's hockey history is coming home.

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which was a longtime fixture at one end of the old Winnipeg Arena, is returning to Manitoba after a pair of CN Rail executives, Jamie Boychuk and Michael Cory, purchased the painting this week.

The five-by-seven-metre oil-on-plywood portrait hung from the arena rafters for 20 years, taking its place in the old barn in 1979, when it was commissioned by then-Manitoba lieutentant-governor Francis Laurence Jobin.

The portrait, painted by Gilbert Burch, has sat inside a storage facility in Whitby, Ont., since 2002. During its hibernation, the topic of the painting and its future came up regularly in Winnipeg, and found more traction when the NHL returned to the city in 2011.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/2/2015 (1578 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A giant piece of Winnipeg's hockey history is coming home.

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which was a longtime fixture at one end of the old Winnipeg Arena, is returning to Manitoba after a pair of CN Rail executives, Jamie Boychuk and Michael Cory, purchased the painting this week.


Artist Gilbert Burch with his portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in 1979.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Artist Gilbert Burch with his portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in 1979.

'We're not going to announce right now where it's going to go, but we're definitely going to put it in a location that is accessible to the public'— CN Rail executive Jamie Boychuk, who, along with co-worker Michael Cory, purchased the painting this week

The five-by-seven-metre oil-on-plywood portrait hung from the arena rafters for 20 years, taking its place in the old barn in 1979, when it was commissioned by then-Manitoba lieutentant-governor Francis Laurence Jobin.

The portrait, painted by Gilbert Burch, has sat inside a storage facility in Whitby, Ont., since 2002. During its hibernation, the topic of the painting and its future came up regularly in Winnipeg, and found more traction when the NHL returned to the city in 2011.

Boychuk plans to bring the painting back to Manitoba in the next couple of weeks. There's no room for the Queen in the MTS Centre, but discussions are already underway to display it in a spot where Manitobans can enjoy it again.

"We've got a few locations that are reaching out, and we've reached out to people who are interested," he said. "We're not going to announce right now where it's going to go, but we're definitely going to put it in a location that is accessible to the public."

The purchase process came about rather quickly. Boychuk was at a recent Winnipeg Jets game with local artist Amanda Von Riesen, who happened to know the curator of the painting in Ontario, Anya Wilson. Von Riesen understood Wilson was looking for a buyer, and when she and Boychuk started to talk about the old portrait at the Jets game, the idea moved quickly.

"I contacted Anya and said 'I think I have an interested buyer.' She was excited and we went from there to negotiating. She's really excited," Von Riesen said.

Boychuk said the painting, which comes in two pieces, is in great condition, with the exception of the odd hockey puck mark put on it by NHL players who used to shoot pucks at it from centre ice when it hung from the arena rafters.

"No matter what we do, that stuff is not going to be touched up," he said.

"That's part of the history of it."

When asked how much an old, massive oil-on-plywood portrait of Queen Elizabeth II dotted with puck marks is going for these days, Boychuk wouldn't tip his hand.

"It's priceless," he laughed. "Absolutely priceless."

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