June 19, 2013

Canada’s heroine – Laura Secord

Many Canadians know of Laura Secord’s famous trek through the Niagara to warn the British of an impending attack, but many don’t know about Laura herself.

Laura Ingersoll was born in Massachusetts in 1775. She was the oldest of four children, and after her mother’s death in 1784 and her stepmother’s death in 1789, Laura became the primary caregiver to her sisters. Laura’s father, Thomas, fought on the Patriots side during the American Revolution but eventually became dissatisfied with the continued persecution of Loyalists and the poor economic situation in America. Thomas, along with others, petitioned Lieutenant-Governor John Simcoe for a land grant in Upper Canada. Upon moving to Canada, Laura married the wealthy James Secord in 1797. Laura and James had five children before the outbreak of the War of 1812.

On October 13, 1812, James Secord was on the frontlines during the Battle of Queenston Heights when he was wounded. Laura found her wounded husband on the battlefield and nursed him back to health at their home in St. Davids. In May 1813, the Americans took over the Niagara, along with the Secord home. On June 22, Laura became aware of American plans to ambush James FitzGibbon’s force at Beaver Dams. Laura undertook a 20-mile (32 kilometre) trek through the harsh Niagara Peninsula to reach DeCew House and warn FitzGibbon. Thanks to Laura’s information, a native force ambushed about 500 Americans, forcing their surrender.
Laura Secord warning FitzGibbon
After the war, Laura did not speak openly about her heroic trek. In 1827, FitzGibbon mentioned Laura’s contribution in a letter,

“The weather on the 22nd day of June, 1813 was very hot, and Mrs. Secord, whose person was slight and delicate, appeared to have been and no doubt was very much exhausted by the exertion she made in coming to me, and I have ever since held myself personally indebted to her for her conduct upon that occasion...” 

It was not until 1860 when the Prince of Wales, later King Edwards VII, was visiting the Niagara and heard of Laura’s trek that she received official acknowledgement. Edward became aware of Laura’s plight as an aged widow and sent her an award of £100. This was the only official recognition of Laura’s heroism during her lifetime. Laura Secord died in 1868 at the age of 93 and is buried in Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls.

This Saturday you can celebrate the 200th anniversary of Laura’s heroic trek through the Niagara Peninsula by retracing her steps. The Friends of Laura Secord have put together a commemorative walk for all abilities. Click here for more information on this Niagara Signature Event.


  1. Since Fitzgibbon didn't show up until the Battle was 3 hours old, The only thing Laura Secord saved was the lives of the American Soldiers surrounded by the Indians.
    As General John Norton said the cawnaguas ? did all the fighting, the Mohawks took all the plunder and Fitzgibbon took all the credit.

    1. Laura Secord's value has been questioned but Fitzgibbon did say that her information was valid. Although, John Norton's assessment of the battle was correct. Thanks for the comment.