Laura Secord

Most Canadians know the name of Laura Secord, although they may be a bit fuzzy about the story of her heroic trek that saved the British and Native forces at the Battle of Beaver Dams during the War of 1812.

Laura Ingersoll Secord was the wife of James Secord, a loyalist. Laura had been born in the United States and had relatives across the line.

Laura Secord's famous act of patriotism begins in of June, 1813. Several American officers forced their way into the Secord home and ordered Laura to serve them dinner. The wine flowed, and as the evening wore on, the officers grew boisterous and carefree, boasting of their plans to crush the remaining British resistance in the area. As Laura quietly washed the dishes, she listened to the voices of the Americans.

"We'll make a surprise move against FitzGibbon at Beaver Dams." It was the voice of an American officer. "We will destroy his headquarters and take the whole detachment captive."

Laura realized that unless Lieutenant FitzGibbon was warned, the entire Niagara peninsula would be lost. She glanced at her husband, who had been wounded at the Battle of Queenston Heights six months earlier and was still barely able to walk. Laura told her husband that she was going to take the message to FitzGibbon herself.

Avoiding the main roads, Laura chose a difficult and circuitous 19 mile route to the stone house where FitzGibbon was stationed.

She began by walking along the road to her brother-in-law's farm. At one point her niece Elizabeth joined her, but gave up in exhaustion three hours later, just as they neared Black Swamp.

Alone, Laura entered the most difficult part of her journey. The heat of the June sun was beating down on her, and the thorns tore at her clothing.

As darkness fell, Laura reached the edge of the swamp. Haunted by the feeling that she was being watched, she climbed the steep escarpment and began moving through the thick undergrowth. When she finally reached a clearing, she found herself surrounded by a band of Indians. Though paralysed by fear, she somehow forced herself to speak, managing to make the chief understand the urgency of her mission. Impressed by her courage and sympathetic to her cause, he ordered one of his men to escort Laura to FitzGibbon's headquarters.

An hour later, Laura Secord arrived at the British garrison just in time to warn FitzGibbon of the impending American attack before she collapsed from exhaustion. Here Laura's heroic adventure ends.

Laura did not publicly record her story for many years, and it was not until 1860, when she was 85 years old, that she received any formal recognition. The Prince of Wales, upon a visit to Canada, read Laura's account of her wartime adventure, and sent her a gift of 100 pounds for her efforts. From that time on, however, the bravery of Laura Secord has been part of Canadian national folklore.

CLICK HERE to see the monument to Laura Secord on Queenston Heights.

CLICK HERE to see what was on the certificate to Laura Secord from James FitzGibbon.

CLICK HERE to see the plaque dedicated to Laura Secord in the Battle of Beaver Dams Park in Thorold Ontario, Canada.

CLICK HERE to see Laura Secord's grave in the Lundy's Lane Cemetary.