Laura Secord is a Canadian chocolatier, confectionery, and ice cream company that was founded by Frank P. O’Connor. It was to commemorate the centennial of Laura Secord’s walk in 1913, and to capitalize on Canadian patriotic feelings. In this vein, allow me to introduce you to Laura Secord, Canadian heroine of the War of 1812.
She was born Laura Ingersoll, on September 13, 1775 in Great Barrington, Province of Massachusetts Bay. She died on October 17, 1868 at the age of 93, in the Village of Chippawa, Ontario. She married James Secord in 1797 and together they had seven children:
- Mary (1799)
- Charlotte (1801)
- Harriet (1803)
- Charles Badeau (1809)
- Appolonia (1810)
- Laura Ann (1815)
- Hannah (1817)
James Secord was seriously wounded at the Battle of Queenston Heights early in the War of 1812. While he was still recovering in 1813, the Americans invaded the Niagara Peninsula, including Queenston (where they lived).
It was during this occupation that Secord overheard information about a planned American attack. So that night, June 22, she sneaked out to inform Lieutenant James FitzGibbon. To reach him, she walked 32 km (20 miles) from present-day Queenston through St. Davids, Homer, Shipman’s Corners and Short Hills at the Niagara Escarpment. She arrived at the camp of allied Mohawk warriors who led her the rest of the way to FitzGibbon’s headquarters at the DeCew House.
There is debate among historians about the exact details, but many agree that the walk was dangerous, as it was American-occupied territory.
It was said that Laura had brought a cow with her as an excuse to leave her home in case the American patrols questioned her.
With her information, a small British force and a larger contingent of Mohawk warriors, they repelled the invading Americans at the Battle of Beaver Dams. Most of the American forces were casualties or were taken prisoner.
I do hereby Certify that on the 22d. day of June 1813, Mrs. Secord, Wife of James Secord, Esqr. then of St. David’s, came to me at the Beaver Dam after Sun Set, having come from her house at St. David’s by a circuitous route a distance of twelve miles, and informed me that her Husband had learnt from an American officer the preceding night that a Detachment from the American Army then in Fort George would be sent out on the following morning (the 23d.) for the purpose of Surprising and capturing a Detachment of the 49th Regt. then at Beaver Dam under my Command. In Consequence of this information, I placed the Indians under Norton together with my own Detachment in a Situation to intercept the American Detachment and we occupied it during the night of the 22d. – but the Enemy did not come until the morning of the 24th when his Detachment was captured. Colonel Boerstler, their commander, in a conversation with me confirmed fully the information communicated to me by Mrs. Secord and accounted for the attempt not having been made on the 23rd. as at first intended.
— James FitzGibbon, letter dated 11 May 1827
Laura Secord died in 1868 at the age of 93. She was interred next to her husband in the Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls. Her grave is marked by a monument with a bust on top, and is close to a monument marking the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. The inscription on her grave 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 24 June 1813, with fewer than 50 men of the H.M. 49th Regt., about 15 militiamen and a small force of Six Nations and other Indians under Capt. William Johnson Kerr and Dominique Ducharme 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.
A few places to learn more about Laura Secord’s legacy, bravery and account of her life, I would suggest going to:
- Galafilm Inc;
- Historica Canada for a Heritage Moment film;
- Canadiana Online to read the book: The Story of Laura Secord, by Emma A. Currie (pub. 1900);
- Poems about Laura Secord on the Niagara Falls Poetry Project.