An oil painting of a Canadian war hero is in danger of being sold and leaving the country, to the dismay of family members in Oshawa who want it back.

The portrait of Second World War ace fighter pilot Lloyd Chadburn is in a private museum of military artifacts collected by the late Robert Stuart, whose daughter Deirdre is trying to sell them for $1 million.

“It’s history. It’s a treasure that should be kept for everyone to see and enjoy,” Chadburn’s first cousin, Colleen Daley, says of the portrait, painted in 1944 just months before he was killed in action. “We don’t want anyone to profit from it.”

Described by one collector of militaria as a “priceless national treasure,” the gilt-framed painting was donated by Chadburn’s aunt to Stuart decades ago for display in his museum at Oshawa Airport. But Deirdre Stuart says the collection her father acquired over his lifetime is hers to sell and unless benefactors have a written loan agreement, they’re out of luck.

The sale is “totally against Bob and what he stood for,” argues Chadburn’s second cousin, Karen Wingrove. “Nothing was written down. It was in good faith because you could just trust Bob.”

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