Who is Laura Secord?
Listen to stories about Laura Secord
From 1812 to 1815, British Canada was at war with the Americans. On June 21st, 1813, American officers occupied Laura Secord's home in Queenston. She overheard them discussing plans to capture a British outpost at DeCew House, 32 kilometres away. Early the next morning, Laura left her wounded husband and young children and walked through enemy lines to warn the British of this impending attack. After hours of difficult travel, she met an encampment of Indian warriors who brought her to the commanding officer, Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon. He heeded Laura's warning and reacted to the threat. His small group of men joined a powerful group of First Nations fighters and surprised the American invaders at a strategic interception point along their invasion route. Nearly 600 American troops surrendered at that decisive Battle of Beaver Dams. Without Laura Secord's bold warning, Canada may not have existed as a nation today.
Unfortunately, Laura's bravery went unnoticed for almost 50 years. But in 1860, the Prince of Wales visited Canada and learned of her story. In 1861, Laura received an award of one hundred pounds sterling from the Prince and Queen Victoria, which led to wide public acclaim.
Laura Secord was an immigrant, a political refugee, a wife, and a mother of seven. Her life was difficult, and she lived in a harsh frontier environment at a time of political instability, economic hardship, and imminent military conflict. But in many ways, she was an ordinary person living in extraordinary times, and her story was shared by other pioneer women, First Nations peoples, black settlers, former slaves, working-class men, and other marginalized people of the day. Their courageous stories have been forgotten, their struggles and sacrifices go untold, and their important roles in the founding of our nation were often overlooked by conventional history, eclipsed by the recorded exploits of prominent politicians and military heroes.
For this reason, we celebrate not only Laura's courageous exploits on Laura Secord Day. We also remember the contributions of so many of her courageous contemporaries who rose to the challenges of their circumstances with exceptional courage and heroism, and whose everyday exploits were so essential to the difficult and noble enterprise of building our nation.