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Packing up Portraits of Honour: Cambridge memorial on the move

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A Cambridge memorial that pays tribute to Canada’s fallen soldiers is on the move.

The Portraits of Honour oil painting, created by the late Dave Sopha, along with his military memorabilia lives in a space within the Kin Canada building in Cambridge. But on March 14, the city received council approval to take ownership of the building.

That means Terri Sopha, Dave’s daughter, has to pack up the paintings which her father put tens of thousands of hours into, along with all of his military tributes.

“The thought of taking this down is so overwhelmingly intimidating,” Sopha said, looking up at her father’s painting. “I don't sleep sometimes at night because I think about how we're doing it.”

She says the city has given her until May 19 to clear out the space. But she says they are willing to give her a few extra days if needed. The city also isn’t leaving her without a place to go.

“Most of my memorabilia is coming with me and we are going to the old Scout House building in Preston on Queenston Road,” said Sopha.

Word of the new space has provided a sense of relief for Sopha because she feared she would not only have to pack away her father’s legacy, but the legacy of the 158 faces on the Portraits of Honour.

ORIGINAL WORK TO BE PUT IN STORAGE

Here’s the catch, the original piece won’t be coming with her to the new location. She will be downsizing from her current space of about 3,200 sq. ft. to around 2,000 sq. ft.

“The building is not big enough, the ceilings are not high enough. They're eight-foot ceilings, this [painting] is 11.5-feet-high, and 43-feet in length,” she says.

Sopha is thankful though, saying the city has offered to help create a replica of her father’s famed artwork to fit in the new space. She says they’ve also provided experts with advice on how to safely preserve the massive painting. Still, it doesn’t make the thought of putting the original in storage any easier.

“Knowing my father the way that I did, he would be so worried about the transition,” she said through tears.

Terri is exploring options to find a permanent place for the painting. One possibility she has considered is selling it to the federal government, so it can be displayed in a national museum and enjoyed by the entire country.

In the meantime, while all her father’s work won’t be under the same roof, she knows he’ll be by her side every step of the way – as will all the soldiers commemorated in the Portraits of Honour.

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