When Jean Ellis of St. John’s saw the photograph of three RCMP officers in their Red Serge on top of Gros Morne Mountain in The Telegram, she was inspired to paint the scene.
Deer Lake RCMP officers (from left) Const. Guy Boudreau, Cpl. Elizabeth Lodge and Const. Jensen Stanley climbed Gros Morne Mountain on July 3 and then donned their uniforms to have some photos taken. Photo courtesy of Bradley Lodge
CORNER BROOK — A photograph of three RCMP officers in their Red Serge on top of Gros Morne Mountain is an image that has touched and inspired many people.
And one of those people — Jean Ellis, a retired nurse from St. John’s — was so inspired by it that she painted it.
The picture of Cpl. Elizabeth Lodge, Const. Guy Boudreau and Const. Jensen Stanley — three members from the RCMP’s Deer Lake Detachment — was taken on July 3.
During a previous hike up the mountain, Lodge was struck by the view and thought it would make a nice background for a photo with officers in their Red Serge. It took a year to make it happen, but Boudreau and Stanley were more than willing to make the climb when the day finally came.
The three carried their Red Serge inside their backpacks with their Stetsons strapped to the back of the packs.
Ellis read the story behind the picture in The Telegram, and said to her husband, Ken Ellis, that she’d love to paint it. And she did.
“For her to have seen the article and been motivated to take the time and energy to paint her vision of our experience on hiking Gros Morne and then share it through the media is highly inspiring." — RCMP Cpl. Elizabeth Lodge
Ellis first started painting while working in the operating room at the Health Sciences Centre from 1978-1999.
“When I was working, a group of us used to get together and dabble in the paints and have a lot of fun together.”
Later she started taking lessons with Les Noseworthy. A breast cancer survivor, she donates one of her paintings to a Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser every year as a thank you for all the help and care she received through her illness.
“I like painting birds mostly,” she said, adding she’s often inspired by the bird photographs featured in birdwatcher Bruce Mactavish’s columns in The Telegram.
“I really enjoy it, but I’m not great at it,” she said with a laugh.
She thinks of it as therapy.
“Especially during this time, you have time on your hands. I find you’re lost in what you’re doing and I enjoy it very much.”
COVID-19 has meant she hasn’t been able to take part in any group classes and she misses the interaction with others.
“Because we have more fun. We follow one another in what we’re doing and we learn from one another as a group.”
Ellis said she was just struck by the photo of the officers.
“Oh, well the scenery alone … any top of a mountain is very inspiring. I’d love to be able to climb it, and the story of the three that did it, gosh I think it was wonderful. And then up there, to put on their Red Serge, that was amazing.
“I love the photo.”
The fact the RCMP is special to her family may also have played a role in why she was so taken with the photo.
Ken Ellis was a member some 60 years ago. He’s 82 now and was in the force for seven years in his 20s. Stationed in St. John’s, his first mission as a 20-year-old was at the Badger Riot. His story is told in Helen Escott’s new book "In Search of Adventure — 70 Years of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland and Labrador."
After he left the force, Ken Ellis remained involved as a member of the RCMP’s Veterans’ Association. He served on the executive of the association and is a charter and life member, while Jean Ellis was a part of the ladies auxiliary.
“Anything the RCMP does, we support.”
Lodge was sent photo of Ellis’s painting by SaltWire Network and said she was humbled by the act.
“For her to have seen the article and been motivated to take the time and energy to paint her vision of our experience on hiking Gros Morne and then share it through the media is highly inspiring. To think that Guy, Jensen and myself were exemplars for her creative expression is very heart-warming to me,” said Lodge, adding a thank you for Ellis.
Lodge said the fact their story, climbing Gros Morne and celebrating their pride in community, profession and camaraderie, was widely and positively shared doesn’t surprise her.
“We, the people of the world, are in dark times, and some other reality that takes us ‘higher’ and raises us above that, even for a brief time, is heart-lifting and just feels good. I’m happy our climb has inspired not only Mrs. Ellis, but so many others as you have reported.”