- Back in 2013, Montreal history was made as a flood on McTavish dragged a woman down from the top to the end of the street, which gained her the title of McGill's "Flood Girl."
- But, no one seems to knows just who this woman really is.
- So I began an investigation to see if I could finally crack the Flood Girl code...
Back in 2013, on January 23 of that year, a woman made both McGill and Montreal history as she braved a flood that swept her down McTavish street. Ever since this day, she has been known as McGill's "Flood Girl." With the seventh anniversary of the event having recently passed, it was naturally on my mind — as a McGill alumna.
The event was documented on the cellphone cameras of numerous Montreal locals, which were quickly shared afterwards.
In the videos, you see the fear in people's eyes as they wait on both sides on the street for the water to stop forcefully making its way down the road. A garbage bin gets pushed along with the current, making it obvious to all the civilians around that it would do the same to them if they even attempted to cross.
Then, one daring soul decided to slide her way down the beginning of the street, in hopes of making it to the other side. It soon dawns on her that she had put yourself up to a rather difficult task.
Instead of continuing her journey to the opposite side of McTavish, she begins to do what looks like snowboarding, down the flood, without a snowboard — of course. This is what people mean by "go with the flow," right?
This enigma has never publically confessed to her being Flood Girl. And thus, the question of who she could possibly be has been haunting the minds of many since that weary day in 2013.
So, I decided it was my turn to try and solve the mystery that has had so few answers since the day of its occurrence.
For those of you who have not yet seen a video of the moment in which one regular McGill student became Flood Girl, here you are:
Even though the video was posted over seven years ago now, people continue to comment on it to this day.
After having rewatched the video for the 94th time, I pondered her need to get to the other side of the road so desperately.
Could she have forgotten her lunch box in the building across the street earlier that morning? Did she hear a calling from the water that she felt as though she had to respond to? Was she able to see the future and predicted the fame this stunt would bring her for years to come?
Using Google Trends, I was able to confirm that Flood Girl has managed to continue to pique people's curiosity since the day she gained her title.
Many events have been held in her favour, such as the 2018 event at McGill's old Gerts bar, which was named "Flood Girl: Never Forget."
And, with that, many drinks have been drunk in her favour, too.
A previous manager of Gerts, Ashkaan Mohtashami, once told the McGill journal The Bull & Bear that "everyone has had a similar experience at McGill, where despite your best efforts and calculations, things just fall apart because of things outside of your control."
"A lot of people just relate to her struggle."
After truly beginning to feel the connection to Flood Girl, I took to Facebook with the hope that my years of lurking skills would help lead me to the true FG.
But, this was all I found:
Yet again, this story's heroine managed to remain anonymous. But such a post gives people a thirst for answers... So, I took to the next platform for information: Reddit.
While Reddit, too, brought me nowhere closer to finding out who Flood Girl actually was, I was surprised to see what the event that made her who she is was defined as.
Turns out, it's known to some as a "Canadian Heritage Moment." With this, I began to realize that this Jane Doe type woman was even more of a celebrity than I had originally assumed.
In the process of trying to touch on every possible base, I took my investigation to Twitter. For a split second, I thought I had cracked the code when I found an account with her exact name: @McGillFloodGirl.
Unfortunately, this, again, was not the real her.
At this point in my process, I did a 360 and went back to trying to find my answers using YouTube.
I then found that TVM, the Student Television at McGill, had made a video a few years back with the same mission as me: find out who Flood Girl is.
The TVM reporter in the video, Harry Turner, assumed the mystery woman needed to go through the flood because she was so urgently trying to get to Gerts, the bar which worshipped her until its closing day.
In the video, we hear an anonymous student tell Turner, who apparently once had a class with Flood Girl, say "much like fear, she lives in all of us."
I reached out to Harry to ask what his experience was like in failing to solve such a mystery. He responded: "honestly, ... it was maybe more fun for the community, for the myth and the legend to grow further through a video like this than for a grand unmasking."
"It really was an analogy for the experience of so many McGill students trying so valiantly, and failing so publicly."
Turner told me that in the process of making the TVM video, they "discovered who she was pretty quickly through a friend. But she didn’t want to go on the record and she certainly didn’t want to be featured in a video about it."
... Wait, what?
So, it seems that some people do, in fact, know who Flood Girl is, but she has managed to remain anonymous in the eyes of the public sphere... True success in this digital age.
As it always goes, the digger you deep, the more questions that seem to arise. Turner pondered "if I had to ask her one last question, it would be what she was going to. Was it a class? A meeting? A date? What could compel someone to traverse so clearly dangerous a stream? Unfortunately, we will never know."
So, here we are, with yet another failed attempt to find a real name attached McGill's Flood Girl. But we do know she is, in fact, a real McGill student, or alumnus, or drop out...
What I've learned throughout this investigative process is that Flood Girl is so much more than just one person. She is a symbol of dedication, perseverance, and why you should always go with the flow.