The changing face of the monarchy: What will happen to portraits of the Queen across northeastern Ontario?

·3 min read
The city says the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II will continue to hang in Sudbury Arena until they've decided whether or not to replace it with a picture of King Charles III.  (Erik White/CBC  - image credit)
The city says the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II will continue to hang in Sudbury Arena until they've decided whether or not to replace it with a picture of King Charles III. (Erik White/CBC - image credit)

She's no longer on the throne, but Queen Elizabeth II will continue to preside over hockey games in North Bay and Sudbury.

Of the dozens of portraits that hang in courthouses, schools, legion halls and municipal offices across northeastern Ontario, the two most prominent look down on the rinks in the North Bay Memorial Gardens and the Sudbury Arena.

Both cities say the pictures will stay put while they decide what to do next, including the possibility of a new portrait of King Charles III.

Soon after her coronation and not long after the arena opened, Sudbury artist Bruno Cavallo was commissioned in 1953 to paint Queen Elizabeth.

John Fraser, a self-described monarchist who worked in city arenas for 30 years, says he was "quite proud" to work in the rink with the large picture of the Queen.

"Unfortunately they didn't really do anything to protect it from the flying pucks," he said.

There are stories in Sudbury that the multiple holes in the portrait were the work of hockey players with anti-monarchist sentiments who intentionally fired pucks at the Queen.

City of North Bay
City of North Bay

Fraser doesn't believe that's true. He suspects a few of the holes were players in practice trying to show off their "finesse with the puck," but says most of the damage just happened during the course of the game.

"See, back originally, when I started at the arena, we only had four-foot-high glass at the end of the rink and there was definitely no netting, so a lot of the pucks that went up there would have been shots that were taken and would have deflected by the goalie and go flying up," he said.

"We took great pains to put those pieces back into the portrait and secured them in place with glue or tape."

The Sudbury Star
The Sudbury Star

But Fraser says that by the mid-1990s, when he was manager of Sudbury Arena, "it was getting to the point where it was perceived as a huge disservice to her majesty."

The Royal Canadian Legion and the Kiwanis Club worked together to commission Cavallo to paint a replacement portrait at a cost of $7,000.

"The pose is almost the same as the last, but a little older this time," Cavallo told the Sudbury Star when the new portrait was unveiled in 1994.

Fraser says the original portrait was so damaged, it "just fell into pieces" when it was taken out of the frame.

Its replacement is in much better shape and he hopes to see it moved to a new home in the coming months.

"I think the portrait of the Queen should be removed from the arena, but should be put in some place of honour. She's no longer our monarch, but it's still a piece of history," Fraser says.

City of Timmins
City of Timmins

The City of Greater Sudbury says because the picture in the arena isn't an official portrait, it doesn't have to be taken down, now that the Queen's funeral has taken place.

But the portrait in the mayor's office in Timmins city hall was taken down Tuesday, following royal protocol.

The picture that hangs in the city council chambers in Sault Ste. Marie has been draped with black cloth, and the city says it will remain until an official portrait of King Charles is available.

City of Sault Ste. Marie
City of Sault Ste. Marie