'Not Lake Louise': Winston Churchill's mislabelled painting of Emerald Lake heads for auction

It’s in rough shape and was mislabelled, but a painting by an iconic former British prime minister of Emerald Lake is about the hit the auction block.

Former British prime minister fell in love with the beauty of the Rockies

Calgary historian David Finch says the painting labelled Lake Louise is actually Emerald Lake. It hits the auction block next week and is expected to attract bids starting at $15,000. (David Bell/CBC-Sotheby’s)

It's in rough shape and was mislabelled, but a painting by an iconic former British prime minister of Emerald Lake is about the hit the auction block.

"In 1929 he was on a cross-Canada tour, a speaking and writing tour, and one of things he did was he fell in love with our mountains," Calgary historian David Finch told The Homestretch, describing Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill seen outside Edmonton's Hotel Macdonald in 1929. (Glenbow Archives NC-6-12603a)

"He spent time at Lake Louise, at Banff and at Emerald Lake, a place he called Lake Emerald."

But there's a problem. The painting has "Lake Louise Canada" in the bottom left corner.

"I did some photo research and it's very, very much not Lake Louise," Finch said.

'Lake Louise Canada' isn't accurate, historian David Finch says. (Sotheby’s)

"There is a very distinctive mountain in the middle left, and it's Emerald Peak. There is no doubt about it. They are now selling it as a painting of 'Lake Emerald,' as Churchill called it."

Sotheby's will auction the painting on Tuesday and Finch says it likely won't go cheap.

"It's a little rough, there is no doubt about it. It's going as is and $15,000 might get it for you, but I'm wondering if it might not be more like £15,000 because how often does a painting like this come out of the woodwork so to speak?"

Lot 142 Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., O.M., F.R.S., HON. R.A. LAKE EMERALD, CANADA oil on canvas 34 by 49cm.; 13¼ by 19¼ in. Estimate: £6,000-8,000. (Sotheby’s)

Finch says the former prime minister was captured by the beauty of the region.

"Churchill wrote back to his wife and said, 'I want to bring you to Canada for many reasons but in particular to Lake Emerald because it's so beautiful here.'"

An oil painting of BC's beautiful Emerald Lake is going up for auction at Sotheby's in London next week. And the artist? None other than former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. He visited Alberta and BC back in 1929 and did a few paintings along the way. David Finch is a historian with a connection to this story, and he joins Doug in studio. 5:51

With files from The Homestretch