05/25/2012 05:39 EDT | Updated 05/25/2012 08:08 EDT

Quebec Fire Hydrant Photo Of Cameron Collie Taken By David Champagne Rivals Kissing Couple

David Champagne

Has the Quebec protest had its kissing couple moment?

A striking photo of a young man sitting in the spray from an open fire hydrant in Montreal while riot police march by is taking off online.


The picture, taken by David Champagne, first appeared on the Montreal freelance photographer's blog.

It wasn't long before the picture began showing up on Reddit and Facebook.

Champagne said he took the photo on the night of May 20. Some protesters opened up a fire hydrant at the same spot a bonfire had been lit the evening before.

Four men began playing in the water, surrounded by onlookers with cameras. One of the men grabbed a chair and sat down in the spray.

That man was Cameron Collie, a 24-year-old engineering student from Brampton, Ont.

Collie told HuffPost Canada he was in Montreal to play a show with his punk band, The Stragglers, not to participate in the protests. Collie is the band's drummer.

He was on his way back to his lodgings after performing at the bar L'Absynthe when he got caught up in the night's protests. According to Collie, some police officers came up behind him on a motorcycle and hit him several times with batons.

"I guess I was the right age. It was crazy, they were just hitting everyone," Collie said.

Soon after, Collie and his three bandmates came upon the open fire hydrant and began to play in the water. Collie grabbed a chair from a pile of debris that had been used to build a barricade and sat down in the stream of water.

Champagne said that when police began arriving from two directions, most of the protesters and onlookers began to clear the scene. Collie, however, remained behind sitting calmly in the torrent of water.

"It was a surrealistic thing," Champagne said. "There are riot police and then the guy is very peaceful, very chill."

Collie said that when the police showed up he was motivated to stay put by their behaviour earlier in the evening. The student at Lakehead University said he decided, "I'm not going to let them stop me from having my fun."

Collie can also be seen sitting in the background of a photo used for the front page of the May 22 edition of Le Journal de Montréal. Video of the scene has been posted to YouTube.

Whether the dramatic photo will end up reaching the iconic status of the kissing couple from Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot remains to be seen, just like where the protests go from here.

For his part, Champagne said the nature of the protest is starting to change. "Now it's getting more popular, in every little neighbourhood families, people, children, grandma and grandpa, everybody is going on the street to play casseroles [pots and pans]. There are a lot of people and you can hear it everywhere. Now it's more than a student crisis, it's going bigger."

Collie agrees. "Everyone is getting in from every point of view, it's not even about tuition anymore ... I feel like it's getting to the point where people from other cities are going to start to join in."

In Collie's view, it's the passage of Bill 78, the controversial emergency measures law, that is triggering the growth of demonstrations. "That's when it became less of a protest and everyone against the cops," Collie said.

"As soon as you're told you can't protest, that's a pretty big thing."


Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery POTS & PANS PROTEST, MAY 24-25 See Gallery
Photo gallery Mass Arrests, Kettling In Quebec See Gallery