Under Her Majesty's watchful eye - Macleans.ca

Under Her Majesty’s watchful eye

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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.