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Laura Secord (born Laura Ingersoll) (September 13, 1775October 17, 1868) was a Canadianmarker heroine of the War of 1812.Laura was born in Great Barrington, Massachusettsmarker in 1775. Suffering the aftermath of the American Revolution, her father, Thomas Ingersoll, moved the family to Canadamarker in 1795, and in 1797 she married the Loyalist James Secord, son of an officer of Butler's Rangers (the Ingersolls themselves were not Loyalists). James and Laura resided in Queenstonmarker in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario), while her family went on to settle present day Ingersoll, Ontariomarker. On October 13, 1812, James Secord was injured at the Battle of Queenston Heightsmarker, part of the War of 1812 that had been declared in June.

On May 27, 1813 the Americanmarker army launched another attack across the Niagara River, successfully capturing Fort George and the Secords were forced to billet American officers. On the evening of June 21, Laura became aware of plans for a surprise attack on troops led by British Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon at Beaver Damsmarker, which would have furthered American control in the Niagara Peninsulamarker. While her husband was still suffering the effects of his injury from the previous October, Laura set out early the next morning to warn Lieutenant Fitzgibbon herself. She walked approximately 30 km from present day Queenston through St. David's, Homer, Shipman's Corners (present-day St. Catharinesmarker) and Short Hills at the Niagara Escarpment before arriving at the camp of allied Native warriors who led her the rest of the way to Fitzgibbon's headquarters at the Decew house. Unbeknownst to Laura, Native scouts had already informed Fitzgibbon of the coming attack. A small British force and a larger contingent of Mohawk warriors were then readied for the American attack with the result that almost all of the American soldiers were taken prisoner in the ensuing Battle of Beaver Damsmarker.

The story has become something of a legend in Canada. An older version said that Laura brought a cow with her as an excuse to leave her home in case of questioning by American patrols; another version holds that she left under the guise of visiting a sick relative in neighbouring St. David's. It is also said that she walked barefoot and took six hours to climb the Niagara Escarpment. However, this story is not likely true; there was no cow and even though she may have lost her shoes in the forest, she was far too sensible a woman to have started her walk in the morning with no shoes on her feet.

Over the years, Laura Secord and James Fitzgibbon petitioned the government in request of some kind of acknowledgment but to no avail. Finally, in 1860, when Laura was 85, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), heard of her story while travelling in Canada. While stopped in Chippawa near Niagara Falls, he was made aware of Laura's heroics and her plight as an aging widow and later sent an award of £100. It was the only recognition that she received in her lifetime.

Laura and her husband attended Holy Trinity Church in the Village of Chippawa (today part of Niagara Falls, Ontariomarker) where their grave markers are presently located, as well as a few relics of the family. Laura Ingersoll Secord died in 1868 at age 93 and she was buried next to her husband in the Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls. Marking her grave is a monument (with a bust of Laura on top) close to that marking the Battle of Lundy's Lane. A cup and saucer from the family are displayed at Lundy's Lane Historical Museum in Niagara Falls, Canada.

Museum

Laura Secord's restored homestead at 29 Queenston St, Queenston, Ontario is a museum near the bank of the Niagara River, with a commemorative plaque in front. The original home in Queenston has been rebuilt to the original floor plan including the original fireplaces.

References in popular culture

  • A 60-second "Heritage Minute" dramatization of the Laura Secord legend aired on Canadian television during commercial breaks.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series of alternate history novels, there is a character said to be descended from Laura Secord, bearing the same name and a strong nationalist fervour.
  • In The Kids in the Hall sketch "Ain't Gonna Spread for No Roses", Tammy states that Laura Secord never spread for roses.
  • The Canadian band Tanglefoot performed a song entitled 'Secord's Warning', which tells Laura Secord's story, on their album 'The Music In The Wood' - lyrics at http://www.tanglefootmusic.com/music/lyrics/gos.htm#secord.
  • There is a high school in St. Catharines, Ontario named after Laura Secord.
  • There is an elementary school in Winnipeg, Manitoba named after Laura Secord.
  • Canadian Band Alexisonfire's first released demo was called "The Philosophical Significance Of Shooting My Sister In The Face (An Essay by James Secord)


Monument on Queenston Heights

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Secord, Laura, in Acton Free Press, 27 Jun 1901, page 3, column 2Monument to Memory of Laura Secord.Mr. and Mrs. Alex. Secord and Mr. and Mrs. T. E. M. Secord, and Miss Rachel, went to Lundy's Lane on Saturday to participate in the unveiling of a monument erected there as a tribute to the memory of Canada's heroine, Laura Secord. The monument consists of a shapely shaft of granite, rectangular in shape, some seven feet in height, resting upon a base of the same material. Upon three sides are polished shields bearing suitable inscriptions cut into the stone. Surmounting the shaft is a life-size bust in bronze of the heroine. Among the friends and descendants of the woman whose memory all honour present were Mrs. C. W. Young, wife of Mr. C. W. Young of the Cornwall Freeholder, who is the daughter of Mrs. Secord's youngest daughter; Messrs. T. E. Secord and Alex. Secord, Acton; Mr. W. F. Secord, Thorold, grand-nephew; Miss Laura Clarke, Toronto, and Miss Augusta Smith, Guelph, granddaughters, and Mr. Andrew Carnochan, who for many years was a next-door neighbor of the Secord family at Chippawa. These were all introduced to the thousands who thronged the historical spot by Rev. Canon Bell, President Lundy's Lane Historical Society. The unveiling was performed by Mrs. Geo. W. Ross, wife of the Premier. The event was one of very great interest.

Grave marker in Drummond Hill Cemetery

Grave marker of Laura Secord at the Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls, ON



The inscription on the marker reads:

To perpetuate the name and fame of Laura Secord, who walked alone nearly 20 miles by a circuitous difficult and perilous route, through woods and swamps and over miry roads to warn a British outpost at DeCew’s Falls of an intended attack and thereby enabled Lt. Fitzgibbon on the 24th June 1813, with less than 50 men of H.M. 49th Regt., about 15 militiamen and a small force of Six Nations and other Indians under Capt. William Johnson Kerr and Dominique Ducharmes to surprise and attack the enemy at Beechwoods (or Beaver Dams) and after a short engagement, to capture Col. Bosler of the U.S. Army and his entire force of 542 men with two field pieces.

Chocolate

Laura Secord Chocolates, founded in 1913, was named in her honour."Laura Secord Chocolates" is now all around Canada, and is known for its ice-cream and dark chocolates, shaped in the pendant with Laura Secord's face in white chocolate as its logo, as seen on the monument of Laura Secord in Lundy's Lane.

References

  1. Wood, W. Select British documents of the Canadian war of 1812, Vol. I of the Toronto : Champlain Society, 1920-1928 pp65-66.


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