Art exhibit sealed with a Royal Canadian Navy First Kiss

First Kiss

Artist Marc-Daniel Allan’s painting “First Kiss” is one of three winning postcards chosen to promote the Maritime Museum of BC’s exhibit, Queer at Sea. Allan says he was inspired to paint First Kiss after viewing the 2016 photograph by Image Tech MCpl (Ret’d) Brent Kenny.

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer

When Master Sailor Francis Legare of HMCS Winnipeg returned to Victoria from a lengthy eight-month deployment in 2016, he did not anticipate becoming the subject of famous artwork.

Titled “First Kiss”, a painting by Victoria painter Marc-Daniel Allan portrays MS Legare in an intimate moment with his partner Cory Vautour during the ship’s traditional First Kiss ceremony. The moment made national and international headlines.

The First Kiss is a time-honoured tradition in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). It allows one lucky sailor at a ship’s homecoming to be the first one for the long-awaited embrace with a loved one at the jetty.

The iconic “First Kiss” painting is part of a new art exhibit at the Maritime Museum of B.C. It has been recreated on one of three winning postcards to promote the museum’s Queer at Sea: Tales from the 2SLGBTQ+ community exhibit. The exhibit opened on May 17 and will close on Nov. 5. The postcards are available for purchase at the museum.

Marc-Daniel Allan is not an artist by trade but a singer working towards a degree in Philosophy at the University of Victoria. He says he has been painting since his youth, primarily for fun.

The idea to paint the first kiss came when Allan joined the Museum’s Postcard contest for the Queer at Sea exhibit. He stumbled upon the first kiss imagery and instantly decided this was the image to paint.

“It was such a moving scene, I couldn’t help but portray it for the postcard. The First Kiss is such an iconic part of naval history,” Allan says. “Being reunited with the person you love after months at sea is an emotional time and I felt this First Kiss truly has universal appeal.”

Allan’s artwork was painted in water-soluble oils. The actual kiss occurred on the jetty at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, but Allan’s backdrop depicts a natural Victoria-area shoreline. He says this was an effort to bring the moment’s intimacy and the two subjects to the forefront.

Museum’s executive director Brittany Vis says the exhibit celebrates the role of Queer and trans communities in B.C.’s maritime history.

“The exhibit shares community members’ stories in their own words,” she says. “Their deeply personal reflections show how orientation and identity contributed to their life at sea.”

Vis hopes Allan’s painting and other similar works will demonstrate how times have changed and why further progress is still needed.

For more information about the Maritime Museum of BC visit their website:

Painter Marc-Daniel Allan.

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