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Local woman's work admired by the prime minister


Bible Hill artist Janice Guinan presented a painting to Prime Minister Stephen Harper during an event in Forties, Lunenburg County. Guinan's family was also on hand during the presentation. From left, Dave Guinan, Janice Guinan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Cynthia Burris and Tomas Guinan. Submitted photo

BIBLE HILL - A letter from the prime minister was proof that Janice Guinan's artwork touched the most powerful man in the country.

Guinan, a Bible Hill resident, received a letter from Stephen Harper last week, thanking her for a painting she gave him in August during a function in Forties, Lunenburg County.

"I was immediately struck by the personal touches you took care to include," the letter read. "The time and effort you expended is greatly appreciated. Rest assured I will cherish this thoughtful piece."

Guinan's chance to give Harper the artwork was unsuspecting. Her parents - Wayne and Cynthia Burris - were invited to the event in Forties, however, Wayne was unable to attend, opening the door for Guinan to take his place, along with husband Dave and son Tomas.

Officials at local MP Scott Armstrong's office thought it would be a good idea for Guinan to paint a piece for Harper.

"I could have given him a landscape of Nova Scotia that I had already painted, but I wanted to create something that would be unique and special to him and his family," Guinan said. "I prayed for God to help me know what to paint, then checked the prime minister's website and discovered that he and his family love cats and foster for the humane society."

Guinan knew Harper played the piano and was a fan of The Beatles when an idea formed.

Her completed work showed a kitten and the sheet music for 'With a Little Help From My Friends' lying on the keys of a piano. She added a red maple leaf to symbolize love of country and patriotism, and a white rose to represent purity in motives.

"Our piano is missing the ivory on the end of one key, which I decided to include as a reminder that no one and nothing is ever perfect," she explained. "Our piano is over a hundred years old, just like Canada, but still plays beautifully, depending, of course, on the pianist and music selection."

The day before Harper was to speak, Guinan received a call from Armstrong's office, informing her the prime minister was still interested in the painting, but it would not be possible to present it during his visit because there was not enough time to go through proper protocol for gifts.

Unbeknownst to Guinan, Armstrong decided to take the painting to the event in the off chance it could be presented to Harper.

Guinan was at a barbecue following Harper's speech when security officers approached her and asked if she was the woman who did the painting. They then took her and her family to a private area where she was able to present the work to him in person.

"He was very friendly, humble and caring," she said. "He wanted to know everything about the painting and was interested in the personal details and symbolism."

Guinan said the letter she received from Harper last week was special.

"To be able to touch another person's heart by creating something uniquely for them is a blessing to me as an artist," she said. "I felt I had accomplished my goal."

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