Sudbury

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

It's unclear how long the face of Queen Elizabeth will continue to smile in public places across northeastern Ontario. Some of the portraits have been taken down, while others have been adorned with black cloth, awaiting the portrait of King Charles.

Some portraits were taken down Tuesday, others were draped with black cloth

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hangs on the wall of Sudbury Arena next to a Canadian flag.
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)

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.

A photograph of Queen Elizabeth II hangs in the North Bay Memorial Gardens, next to Canadian and American flags.
The photograph of the Queen that hangs in North Bay's Memorial Gardens has been draped with black cloth while the city decides what to do with it next. (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."

Sudbury artist Bruno Cavallo uses a paint brush on a large picture of Queen Elizabeth II.
Sudbury artist Bruno Cavallo painted the original portrait of Queen Elizabeth II for the Sudbury Arena in 1953 and then was commissioned to paint the replacement in 1994. (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.

A picture of Queen Elizabeth II hangs in the mayor's office in Timmins next to the Franco-Ontarian flag with a black band across one corner.
The portrait of the Queen in the mayor's office in Timmins city hall was taken down Tuesday following the official mourning period. (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. 

A portrait of the queen hangs in the Sault Ste. Marie city council chambers, draped with a black cloth.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie says the portrait of the Queen in the city council chambers will remain until an official picture of the new monarch, King Charles III, is available. (City of Sault Ste. Marie)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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