For a brief moment Saturday night, millions of Canadians watching the live broadcast of the Tragically Hip’s Kingston concert were treated to a very personal celebration.
During the band’s performance of Bobcaygeon, one of the Hip’s signature tunes, cameras roaming the arena floor captured a man clad in a Toronto Maple Leafs Dion Phaneuf jersey, passionately kissing a woman as the band performed behind them.
Within moments, the passionate kiss – and notable choice of concert attire – began trending on Twitter under the hashtag #PhaneufGuy
For many Canadians watching, it seemed to be a spontaneous expression of the love present in the Rogers K-Rock Arena that night.
But it turns out there was more, much more, behind the amourous couple’s mid-concert lip lock: just moments prior, #PhaneufGuy – whose real name is Phil Keeling – had popped the question to his girlfriend, Katie Buchanan.
“Bobcaygeon is one of our favorite songs. I know, how original, right?” Buchanan, 25, told Global News from her home in Petawawa, Ont., Monday. “Anyways, he took me out into the aisle and I thought it was just to dance. We’d always joked that one day, it would be our wedding song.”
“But then he got down on one knee, and the rest of the evening was a bit of a blur to be honest.”
It was right after Buchanan said Yes that the roving camera found the newly-engaged couple, passionately kissing to the sound of their favourite song. And just like that, a heartwarming and uniquely Canadian moment was caught on camera.
“I wasn’t expecting to get this much attention, honestly,” Keeling, 27, told Global News. “I didn’t even know cameras were on us at the time. I’ve had it planned for awhile, since we got the tickets. I knew that Bobcaygeon would be the song.”
Turns out it was a little bit more than that. According to preliminary numbers from CBC, some 11.7 million Canadians tuned into Saturday night’s broadcast across the public broadcaster’s many platforms.
And just like that, Keeling and Buchanan’s kiss had captured – if only briefly – the nation’s attention.
“Both of our moms, at the exact same time, texted me saying ‘Hey no smooching on national TV!’” Buchanan joked. “And then I messaged them back saying ‘He deserved all the smooches possible, because he just proposed.’”
It was only after the concert that Buchanan checked her phone, saw her notifications, and learned the brief shot of her and her new fiancé kissing was “everywhere.”
The mid-concert proposal even caught the eye of Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie, at least according to Buchanan. As seen in the broadcast, right after the camera cuts from the shot of the couple kissing we can see Downie addressing someone in the crowd while pointing to his ring finger.
“I’m surprised he could see us,” Keeling said. “We were in the second tier on the floor. On TV it looks farther away than it is, but I was still surprised he could see us.”
Saturday’s show held a special signifance for fans of one of Canada’s pre-eminent rock bands after Downie, 52, announced he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer earlier this year.
The Kingston show, in the band’s hometown, was the final stop on their recent “Man Machine Poem” tour and is widely expected to be the band’s final live show. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, actor Dan Aykroyd, and NHL star Taylor Hall were among the celebrities in attendance.
So before we go: what was with that Dion Phaneuf jersey, anyway? Hockey jerseys aren’t exactly uncommon at Tragically Hip shows, but the choice of Phaneuf – the polarizing former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs who was traded to the Ottawa Senators last season – was a particularly eyebrow raising choice.
“I’m just a die-hard Leaf fan,” Keeling said. “Dion, he doesn’t get enough respect, and I have no problems wearing his jersey. I think he’s a great guy.”
His new fiancée suspects he had another reason for wearing the white #3 jersey that night.
“Anything he can do to encourage a conversation about hockey or the Maple Leafs, he’ll do,” Buchanan joked.