02/27/2015 10:47 EST | Updated 04/29/2015 05:59 EDT

Former royal spectator at Winnipeg Jets games returning to Manitoba

WINNIPEG - A giant portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that once graced the former home of the Winnipeg Jets is being hauled out of an Ontario warehouse and returned to Manitoba.

The portrait has been in storage in Whitby, north of Toronto, for more than a decade, but has now been purchased by Canadian National Railway executives Jamie Boychuk and Michael Cory.

Boychuk says in a statement released late Thursday that the picture is a very important piece of Winnipeg's history, and he's excited about bringing it back to the city where it belongs.

There's no immediate word on the purchase price or where it will be hung.

In 1979, Bud Jobin, then lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, commissioned the painting by commercial artist and muralist Gilbert Burch.

It hung for nearly 20 years from the rafters of the old Winnipeg Arena, which was demolished following construction of MTS Centre in the city's downtown.

Anya Wilson, who has acted as custodian of the portrait in Whitby, has received numerous offers to buy the portrait, but none of them have come from Manitoba.

Wilson says she was determined to have it returned to Winnipeg because she was always hearing from people in the city who have fond memories of the portrait.

While on a recent trip to Winnipeg, Wilson was connected by phone to local artist Amanda Von Riesen, who immediately mentioned the portrait to Boychuk. (CJOB)