The Changing Face of the Monarchy: What Happens to Queen Portraits in Northeast Ontario?

She is 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 northeast Ontario courthouses, schools, legion halls and municipal offices, the two most prominent look down on the ice rinks at North Bay Memorial Gardens and Sudbury Arena.

Both cities say the photos will stand as they decide what to do next, including the possibility of a new portrait of King Charles III.

Shortly 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-proclaimed monarchist who worked in urban arenas for 30 years, says he was “pretty proud” to work at the ice rink with the queen’s big picture.

“Unfortunately, they haven’t really done 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 deliberately fired pucks at the Queen.

A photo of Queen Elizabeth II hangs in the North Bay Memorial Gardens, alongside Canadian and American flags.
The photo of the Queen hanging in North Bay’s Memorial Gardens is covered in black cloth as the city decides what to do with it. (City of North Bay)

Fraser doesn’t believe that to be true. He suspects that a few of the holes were players trying to show off their “puck fineness” in practice, but he says most of the damage just happened over the course of the game.

“Look, originally, when I started in the arena, we only had three-foot glass at the end of the rink and there was absolutely no net, so a lot of the pucks going up there would have been shots taken and would have changed direction by the keeper and would have flown away,” he said.

“We put a lot of effort into putting those pieces back into the portrait and securing them in place with glue or tape.”

Sudbury artist Bruno Cavallo uses a paintbrush on a large photo of Queen Elizabeth II.
Sudbury artist Bruno Cavallo painted the original portrait of Queen Elizabeth II for the Sudbury Arena in 1953 and was then 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 got to the point where it was seen as a huge disservice to Her Majesty.”

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

“The pose is almost the same as the previous one, 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 that it “just fell to pieces” when it was removed from the frame.

His replacement is in much better shape and he hopes to see him move to a new home in the coming months.

“I think the portrait of the queen should be removed from the arena, but placed in a place of honor. She is no longer our queen, but it is still a piece of history,” Fraser said.

A photo of Queen Elizabeth II hangs in the mayor's office in Timmins next to the French Ontario flag with a black band over one corner.
The portrait of the queen in the mayor’s office in Timmins town hall was removed on Tuesday after the official mourning period. (Town of Timmins)

The City of Greater Sudbury says that because the photo in the arena is not an official portrait, it should not be removed now that the Queen’s funeral has taken place.

But the portrait in the mayor’s office at Timmins City Hall was removed on Tuesday, according to royal protocol.

The painting in the council chamber of Sault Ste. Marie is draped in 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's council chamber, draped with a black cloth.
The town of Sault Ste. Marie says the portrait of the queen will remain in the council chamber until an official photo of the new monarch, King Charles III, is available. (City of Sault Ste. Marie)

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