Under Her Majesty’s watchful eye


John Baird redecorates the Foreign Affairs building.

A pair of historic paintings by Quebec modern master Alfred Pellan were removed from their decades-old spot and replaced by a 2002 photo portrait of the Queen late last month. The change was ordered before the visit of Prince William and Kate in late June, and took some staff by surprise when they entered the Lester B. Pearson Building after the long weekend.

The large, brightly-coloured Pellan paintings, called “Canada West Canada East,” show two coasts — one with details such as totem poles and the Coastal Mountains, the other featuring fishermen, moose and sailboats. They have hung in the spot above the reception desk since the Queen opened the building in 1973, and the faint outlines of the works are still visible on the brown stone wall around her newly-hung photograph.

Shortly after Stephen Harper moved into the Prime Minister’s Office, a member of his staff similarly ensured a picture of Her Majesty was found and hung.


Under Her Majesty’s watchful eye

  1. Apparently Baird has too much free time on his hands, so he’s taken to stirring up hornet’s nests.

    Canada West and Canada East are once again seen as an outpost of the Empire. 

  2. Well, we should consider ourselves lucky that it wasn’t a picture of the Sith himself.

    Speaking of which:


    “I’d say between every window, in every available space of the wall, at eye level, every available space has a photo of Stephen Harper.””You’ve got photos of Stephen Harper, but not of previous prime ministers,” she added

    Can you say sociopath!

  3. I heartily approve of our government’s decision to hang more portraits of Canada’s Head of State in government buildings.

    • Canada is probably the only country in the world that doesn’t want to be independent.

      • Canada has been independent since the Statute of Westminster in 1931.

        • Oh really? 

          We hadn’t even patriated our constitution then.

          And now,  it’s the dept of foreign affairs and international trade…for what country?

          • Like it or not Elizabeth is Queen of Canada. In that portrait she is posing as Queen of Canada, with our flag and medals.

          • Well a) we should get rid of the monarch…she’s English

            and  b) we  don’t need to have her photo everywhere

            We look like some third world country with photos and statues of the leader everywhere.

          • Yes, having one portrait of the queen at the entrance to federal office buildings is exactly like the hundreds of billboards and posters of Kim Jong-Il you can’t escape in downtown Pyongyang.

    • Hear, hear!

  4. I totally approve the hanging of portraits of our Queen in public buildings.

    What troubles me however is that we don’t know what the government intends to do with the Pellan paintings.  I sure hope that they are not destined to accumulating dust in the basement at the Archives, as is the case with the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.  These works of art are the property of the people of Canada and the government of Canada has an obligation to keep them safely, and IMO, an obligation to display them for the enjoyment of all Canadians. 

    • They WERE being displayed.

      • How many tourist does Fort Pearson receive each year as compared to, say, Rideau Hall or the National Gallery?

        • Either way you have to go to Ottawa to see it.

          • I may be wrong, but LBP BLDG is not easily frequented by the public at large.  I’ve never been in, but when I’ve passed by, it didn’t seem inviting.  Works of art such as Pellan’s paintings should have their place in the National Gallery for their proper preservation and for all to enjoy.

          • You are imagining a problem where none existed

    • I highly doubt they’ll accumulate dust. Far more likely is that they’ll be put up for auction as part of the government’s austerity plan.

  5. I simply don’t understand why they dis that.

    Canada is an independent country. Why don’t we install portraits of the people who built this country if we don’t like our creators ? McDonald, Cartier, etc ..

    Are we proud to be canadian or would we like to be still be a “colony” of UK ?

    • LOL,

      MacDonald must be rolling over in his grave at your suggestion that his portrait replace one of the Queen.  You do remember that Sir John A. once said “A British subject I was born — a British subject I will die”, don’t you? 

      Also, I seem to remember that one of Cartier’s first acts on the Gaspe peninsula was to erect a huge cross engraved with the words “Long Live the King of France”, so he’s hardly a great role model either for a modern anti-monarchist intent on separating us from our past connections to “foreign” monarchies!

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