For the Love of Canada

Painter Linglei Lu spent the past two years working on This is Canada, a three-panel portrait of great Canadians.

by David Nickle, Senior Advisor on Policy and Communications

When Linglei Lu came to Canada from China in 2011, it was for love of family – he came to help his daughter raise her twins.

Over the past 11 years, Lu has extended that love – to his new country Canada, as he pursued a second career as a painter. As he's learned his new craft after having retired from a career as a computer engineer, Lu has found ways to portray Canada and its complex history in art.

In 2017,during the celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday, his series of paintings Sea to Sea drew the attention of the CBC for its depictions of Chinese laborers at work on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

And now, as Canada’s 155th birthday arrives, Lu has completed another work – a three-panel group portrait of individuals who have helped make Canada what it is today. Earlier this spring, Lu shared an image of This is Canada with us – and we wanted to share Linglei Lu’s story with you. Lu says that he decided to embark on the ambitious project just before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out – and he said the project was daunting in the beginning.

“I was very hesitant at first, mainly because the subject matter is too big (and I wondered), does anyone need it? Does Canada like a theme like this? Is it suitable for my personal painting? Secondly, when the pandemic was serious: can I finish it? I am over 70 years old, and belong to a high-risk group. What should I do if I get infected?”

He soon cast aside those questions, and forged ahead. In a pandemic, he writes, “society is in great need of large-scale artworks that can lift spirits and boost morale! So I thought, don’t worry too much, if you have an idea and decide, just do it!”

Over the course of the pandemic, that is what he did: a painting of dozens of Canadian historical figures posed in front of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa; the whole thing, spread over three 60 by 90 inch canvasses.

Sprinter Donovan Bailey stands between humorist Stephen Leacock and hockey great Wayne Gretsky; painter Emily Carr stands just behind Quebec film-maker Denys Arcand; the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau stands at a podium, looking over the shoulder of astronaut Chris Hatfield. Lu’s other work is in private collections in Canada and the U.S., but he said that his main purpose in painting is to enrich his daily life.

And as his now three grandchildren grow older, he expects to be able to paint even more – and so perhaps enrich all of our lives.

To view more of Linglei Lu’s work, visit him online at

On beautiful Friday evenings in July, there's nowhere I'd rather be than with you in Mel Lastman Square. For more than 10 years, it's been my joy to be there on those nights, satisfying my creative ur