Laura Secord

Laura Secord, Canadian war heroine, 1775-1868

Before her name became synonymous with chocolate in Canada, Laura Secord was an unsung heroine of the 1812 war who ran 32 kilometres through the Niagara bush to carry vital information to a British Lieutenant. Because of her daring act, and with the assistance of the Kahnawake Mohawks, he escaped capture and forced the surrender of 600 American troupes in what was called the Battle of Beaver Dams. She was 83 years old before she received recognition for her heroism. 

Laura Secord was born in Great Barrington, Mass. and had three sisters. Her mother died when she was 8 and her father remarried twice, adding many more children to the family. When Secord was 20 they immigrated to Upper Canada where her father became a homesteader, founding the town of Ingersoll, which was their surname. She soon married a young shopkeeper named James Secord and they set about starting a family. They had six daughters and a son.

James Secord was called to battle in 1812 and when he didn’t return home, Secord set out to find him, searching through fallen soldiers on the battlefield until she did, severely wounded. She brought him home and nursed him back to health, all the while tending to the seven children and running the farm. Though he survived, he was permanently disabled, and they lived off his meager military pension. 

On June 22 1813, Secord overhead American soldiers planning to capture the British Lieutenant, and decided to set out with her sister to deliver the warning. She told the soldiers, who had taken over the Secord family home, that she was visiting a sick sister. Secord and her sister ran for 18 hours, arriving with blistered and bloody feet in a First Nations village. They  explained to them their mission, saying “the big knives are coming,” and the chief brought her to the Lieutenant to deliver the message. The rest is Canadian history. 

After her husband’s death, Secord opened a school for the children of the local Chippawa First Nation. Finally, in 1860, the Prince of Wales heard of her story and awarded Secord 100 Pounds for her bravery. Her portrait hangs in the Parliament building in Toronto and you can visit the Laura Secord Homestead in Queenston, Ontario. 


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