DeCew House Heritage Park - site overview

Introduction and Historical Context


It was 1813 and war had been raging in Canada for over a year. In May the Americans had captured Fort George and were now in control of the Niagara Frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. Even after their defeat at Stoney Creek stymied their westward advance, territory as far inland as Ten-Mile Creek lay securely in their grasp now and they continued to consolidate their hold on the Niagara frontier.They had also set about to arrest all males between sixteen and sixty years of age and march them to an internment camp near Albany, New York.

It was on the evening of June 21st when the Village of Queenston was disturbed by the arrival of 400 of the 13th U.S. Infantry Regiment from New York State en route to Fort George. Sometime that day, plans were overheard by the Secords about a large force being sent to capture a British outpost located at John DeCew's House, 32 kilometres away, near the area called Beaver Dams.

Early the next morning, Laura left her wounded husband and young children and walked through enemy lines and dangerous terrain to warn the British and their aboriginal allies of this impending attack by American forces.

After nearly 16 hours difficult hours - exhausted, afraid, and with darkness quickly approaching - Laura finally pulled herself up the cliffs of the Niagara escarpment, only to encounter a contingent of First Nations warriors who were camped in DeCew's Field. This is a remarkable story in itself.

One of the warriors, John Tutela, recalled the encounter many years later.

 
 

They escorted Laura Secord the final distance to DeCew House where she delivered her fateful message to Lt. Fitzgibbon.Scouts were dispatched to verify troop movement, but when there was no sign of the approaching Americans, Captain Norton and his men left the area.Unbeknownst to everyone was that a failed American diversionary tactic to occupy British reinforcements had derailed their expedition to Beaver Dams until the following day.However, Fitzgibbon had sent a mounted patrol to the DeHaren camp near Ten Mile Creek where over 300 Kanawake warriors and 100 warriors from the Grand River were also camped.

The Kanawake (Caughnawaga) Mohawks led by Capt. Dominique Ducharme and Lieutenants J.B. DeLormier, Gedion G. Gaucher, Louis Langlade, Evangeliste St. Germain and Issac Leclair, had traveled nearly 380 miles (600 km) from Lac des Deux Montaignes in Quebec and arrived just shortly before the Battle of Beaver Dams. The Grand River Mohawks were led by Mohawk leader John Brant and William Kerr.


 
 

The Battle of Beaver Dams was the only battle of the War of 1812 fought and won almost entirely by Canada's First Nations peoples. It removed from the conflict nearly a quarter of the American strength on the Niagara Frontier, it allowed British and Canadian forces to put the Americans holding Fort George under virtual siege and it broke the Americans' offensive spirit and was a pivotal shift in the tides of the War of 1812. The battle stands as an iconic episode in Canadian history.

Importance of the monument

To commemorate this singular event, the Friends of Laura Secord propose the creation of a Living Stone Hearth Monument at DeCew House Park as a symbolic testament to the positive collaboration between early settlers and First Nations peoples that helped forge Canada as an independent nation.

The monument, in gratitude to First Nations involvement in the Laura Secord story and, more importantly, in acknowledgement of their pivotal role in the defining of Canada, has been on the active drawing board of the Friends of Laura Secord since the commemorative projects undertaken in 2013.

 
 

Location of DeCew House Heritage Park, Thorold

Location of Stone Hearth Monument - DeCew House Heritage Park

Interactive Street View of monument site from DeCew Road

Detailed Site Views I


Detailed Site Views II


Design considerations

Because of concerns about an actual hearth being considered a fire hazard, the idea of upright long stones representing flames has been considered.

Upright long stones could also be used to represent each of the tribes/nations involved in the Battle of Beaver Dams as well as the French and Eastern Canadian contributions.

Stone elements could be sourced as follows:

  1. Sandstone for seating and various elements, donated by Queenston Quarry once owned by the Secord family will be a testament of the gratitude from Secord families.
  2. Stones sourced from each of the tribes that fought in the Battle of Beaver Dams: Caughnawaga Mohawks from Lac de Deux Montagnes in Quebec, Six Nations of the Grand River Valley (Mohawks, Senecas, Onodagas, Oneidas, Cayugas, Tuscarora), and First Nations – Tutelays and Aughqwwagas.
  3. Long stones for symbolic flames (vertical, ochre or reddish) sourced from Queenston Quarry, if available.
  4. Stone from Quebec to represent French Canadian contribution (Dominique Ducharme – Captain in the Indian Departmnet) to the battle.
  5. Stone from New Brunswick to represent the Eastern Canadian contribution (104th New Brunswick Regiment of Foot) to the battle.

Other factors

  • Rankin Construction is working on a major road/bridge project very close to site. This community minded company constructed the "Bridge at Laura's Crossing" for us in 2013.Further assistance/material may be possible.
  • The "Bridge at Laura's Crossing" was constructed in 2013. Enhanced design elements have yet to be finished. Laser-cut embellishments (Haudenosaunee flag and other First Nations designs) will be added in 2016.They could also reflect common design aspects of the monument.



The Bridge at Laura's Crossing
 


 


 


 


  • Memorial tree planting will occur as part of the landscaping of the site. Species can be chosen to reinforce First Nations significance.
  • There is potential for expansion/enhancement of the site in the future (e.g. improvement and accessible upgrading of the path from Laura Secord Legacy Trail through DeCew House Park to the monument site.

Turn-by-turn directions - Laura Secord Legacy Trail (web version)


TURN BY TURN
DIRECTIONS
and TRAIL GUIDE

June 2015


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER - PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
USE OF THE LAURA SECORD LEGACY TRAIL IS ENTIRELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.


TRAIL SIGNAGE, DIRECTIONS, LANDMARKS, WAYFINDING INFORMATION AND OTHER DETAILS ASSOCIATED WITH THE LAURA SECORD LEGACY TRAIL IN THIS DOCUMENT AND ELSEWHERE (INCLUDING INTERNET AND ELECTRONIC SOURCES) ARE PROVIDED ONLY AS A CONVENIENCE, AND DO NOT CONVEY ANY LEGAL AUTHORITY OR RIGHT OF ACCESS. ACCESS TO PROPERTY IS ENTIRELY AT THE DISCRETION OF THE RELEVANT LANDOWNERS AND JURISDICTIONAL AUTHORITIES. PROPERTY ACCESS AND USE ARE GOVERNED BY ALL PERTINENT AND APPLICABLE REGULATIONS IN FORCE AT THE TIME OF ACCESS. TRAIL SURFACE INFORMATION, HEALTH AND SAFETY WARNINGS, AND OTHER INFORMATION RELATED TO THE LAURA SECORD LEGACY TRAIL ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. TRAIL CONDITIONS MAY BECOME HAZARDOUS AT ANY TIME DUE TO WEATHER, EROSION, OR OTHER UNFORESEEN EVENTS. ACCESS TO AND USE OF TRAILS IS ENTIRELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

FRIENDS OF LAURA SECORD, PROPERTY OWNERS, AND RELEVANT JURISDICTIONS ASSUME NO LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR USE OF THE LAURA SECORD LEGACY TRAIL OR OTHER ASSOCIATED TRAILS AND FEATURES, NOR ARE THEY LIABLE IN ANY WAY FOR YOUR HEALTH, SAFETY, OR CONDUCT.


Textbox

STAGE 1 - LAURA SECORD HOMESTEAD TO FIREMEN'S PARK

Click here for live Google Map of Stage 1


Directions Toilets?

1

Start at front door of Laura Secord Homestead - 29 Queenston Street, Queenston



Toilets at Home-
stead

2

Walk out front door of Secord Homestead. Turn left (NW) onto Queenston Street and walk to the intersection with Dee Road (350 m).

3

Turn left (west) onto Dee Road and walk to the intersection with the Niagara Parkway (300 m).

4

Head straight across the Niagara Parkway to the unpaved Dee Road farm road directly opposite.

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

5

Continue west on Dee Road farm road to intersection with Concession 1 road (unpaved) (850 m).


6

Turn left (south) on unpaved Concession 1 road allowance to York Road (600 m).

7

Cross York Road to south shoulder and turn right (west).

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

8

Continue west along the south shoulder of York Road to intersection with the Upper Canada Heritage Trail on south side of York Road, at the old stone railway abutment (1.2 km)

9

Turn left and go up the abutment onto the Upper Canada Heritage Trail and into the woods.

10

Follow Upper Canada Heritage Trail (blue paint blazes) past the trail intersection with Kilometre 4.3 of the Bruce Trail. Continue on Bruce Trail (white paint blazes) along the edge of the escarpment to the intersection with Stamford Townline Road (about 2.0 km)

11

Turn right (west) onto Stamford Townline Road to the intersection with Four Mile Creek Road / St. Paul Ave. (60 m)

12

Turn left (south) onto the wide shoulder of St. Paul Ave. Walk under Hwy 405 overpass and continue south along St. Paul Ave. When you have clear sightlines, cross over to the opposite side of St. Paul Street and continue to the intersection with the Bruce Trail (500 m).

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

13

Turn right from St. Paul Avenue onto the Bruce Trail, marked by a dirt path, trail sign, and white paint blazes.

14

Follow Bruce Trail and Laura Secord Legacy Trail signage through the woods until it emerges on Dorchester Road.(1.1 km).

15

Cross Dorchester Road into the parking lot at lower Firemen's Park.

NOTE: Stage 2 of the trail continues immediately south of the railway tracks. Proceed with caution!!

This is the end of Stage 1.



Porta-
potties at
Firemen's Park

STAGE 2 - FIREMEN'S PARK TO THE OUTLET COLLECTION AT NIAGARA MALL

Click here for a live Google map of Stage 2

16

Stage 2 of the Legacy Trail Starts at the parking lot at lower Firemen's Park, west of Dorchester Road and north of the CN Railway.

17

Head south on Dorchester Rd.

CAREFULLY cross the CN Railway and turn right (west) on the Bruce Trail (white blazes) which parallels the railway line.

CAUTION: RAILWAY CROSSING - Please proceed carefully!

18

CAUTION: There is extensive trail erosion in this area from motorized vehicles. Low-lying stretches of the trail may be very wet and muddy. Please proceed carefully, and avoid doing further damage to the trail.

This section of trail skirts the north edge of the Mountain Road Landfill Site, enters Mewburn Park, and intersects Mewburn Road (1.9 km). Cross Mewburn Road and continue straight ahead (west) on the trail for 70 m. Stay south of the fence. The trail north of the fenceline (marked with Bruce Trail blazes) is rutted and muddy.

19

After 70 m, you will pass three leachate ponds south of the trail. About 400m later, the trail will turn south (left) along a ravine for 140 m, before U-turning and heading north again up the west side of the same ravine.

Caution: depending upon season and weather conditions, the bottom of the ravine may be wet and muddy.

20

As you approach the CN railway line from the south, the trail will veer left (west) and meander through the woods for 330 m to the intersection with the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) highway.

21

Cross the QEW on the Sand Plant Hill Footbridge.

From the west abutment of the Sand Plant Hill Footbridge, the trail descends to grade level and skirts the south side of the CN railway for 360 m before making a sharp right turn and passing through the 25m long 'Screaming Tunnel' under the train tracks.

22

Walk through the 25m long 'Screaming Tunnel', a quarried limestone tunnel that runs under the present-day CN (once Grand Trunk) Railway line.

23

Exit the tunnel and turn left (west) on Warner Road. Continue west for 1.4 km.

24

Just north of the driveway for 9556 Warner Road, the trail takes an abrupt right turn and heads due north at a marked junction and into the woods, skirting the western edge of 9559 Warner Road (a privately owned property with right of passage granted to the Bruce Trail Club). The trailhead is marked with Bruce Trail directional signs and blazes.

25

100 m north of Warner Road, cross into Woodend Conservation Area and continue due north for an additional 177 m until the intersection with the access road to the Woodend Conservation Area parking lot.

26

Cross the access road. Leave the Bruce Trail to follow a shortcut marked with Laura Secord trail signs through the woods. In 45m, you will join the Paul Naray [Silurian] Side Trail of the Bruce Trail, which continues westward for approximately 300m.

27

The Paul Naray (Silurian) side trail intersects Niagara College's Wetland Ridge Trail and emerges on the edge of Niagara College's experimental vineyards.

28

As you approach the vineyard, turn right (north) and follow the marked Wetland Ridge Trail across the rocky talus slopes at the base of the escarpment (450 m).

Caution: rocky slope with uneven footing - proceed carefully!

29


The trail continues north and emerges at the eastern edge of the Niagara College vineyards, passing just west of the twin lagoons.

Follow trail signs north for 440 m to the car park access road. Turn left and follow the shoulder of the road as it curves south and then west towards the Wine Visitor and Education Centre. Cross theroad at the crosswalk in front of the Wine Vistor and Education Centre and follow the sidewalk to theTransit Loop in front of the main college building (400 m), under the big blue 'nc' logo.

30

Follow the gravelled pedestrian access path that goes from near the bike racks at the transit loop to the intersection at the southeast corner of Glendale Avenue and Taylor Road.


31

From the southeast corner of Taylor Rd and Glendale Ave., head south across Taylor Road at the crosswalk. Turn right (west) and cross Glendale Avenue at the crosswalk. Continue along the concrete sidewalk that follows the south side of Taylor Road towards McDonalds and the first entrance to the Outlet Collection at Niagara .

This is the end of Stage 2.



Toilets at McDonald's
/ Mall


STAGE 3 - OUTLET COLLECTION AT NIAGARA to RODMAN HALL

Click here for a live Google map of Stage 3

32

Stage 3 begins at the McDonald's entrance to the Outlet Collection at Niagara.

YOU MAY STOP AND LOOP THROUGH THE MALL, RETURNING TO THIS LOCATION TO CONTINUE YOUR WALK, OR CONTINUE ON STAGE 3 OF THE TRAIL BY FOLLOWING THE CONCRETE SIDEWALK ALONGSIDE TAYLOR ROAD.

33

At the crosswalk, carefully cross the entrance road to the Outlet Collection Mall near McDonald's.

Continue walking west along the concrete sidewalk on the south side of Taylor Road to the intersection of Homer Road.

34

At the T-intersection of Taylor Road and Homer Road, CAREFULLY cross Homer Road.

You may choose to walk on the grassy verge between the Leon's parking lot and Taylor Road, then move back onto on the south shoulder of Taylor Road, which will curve north to the intersection with York Road / Queenston Street, in the shadow of the Garden Valley Skyway.

35

Turn left at the intersection of Taylor Road and Queenston Street / York Road.

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

36

Walk west along the south shoulder of Queenston Street for 450 m to the east side of the Homer Lift Bridge.

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

37

Cross the Welland Canal on the Homer Lift Bridge (240 m). You may have the opportunity to view ships if the lift bridge is up.

38

Continue west along the south side of Queenston Street from Homer Bridge to the intersection of the Welland Canals Parkway (70 m).

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

39

Cross the Welland Canals Parkway and continue west along the south side of Queenston Street past Victoria Lawn Cemetery and across Emmett Road and Spring Street to Bunting Road (1.3 km).

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

40

Cross the busy intersection at Bunting Rd and Queenston at the crosswalk. Continue on Queenston Street to Hartzell Road (400 m).

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

41

Cross the busy intersection at Hartzell Rd. Continue west along Queenston St. for 900 m to Westchester.

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

42

Cross Westchester Avenue, then follow the sidewalk diagonally left along the northwest side of EASTCHESTER Avenue.

THIS INTERSECTION CAN BE A BIT CONFUSING… ENSURE THAT YOU ARE FOLLOWING EASTCHESTER AVENUE TOWARDS CENTENNIAL PARK.

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

43

Follow Eastchester southwest for 400 m to the intersection with Oakdale Avenue.

44

Turn right (north) on Oakdale Avenue and walk for 80 m.

45

Cross Oakdale Avenue and enter Centennial Park.

46

Turn right and walk along the Centennial Park access road (part of the Merritt Trail) for 500 m to theTotem Pole Garden.

47

Continue west on the Merritt Trail for 180 m, then bear right on the paved section of the trail. Follow the trail up the staircase and emerge on Riordan Drive.Follow the left (west) sidewalk of Riordan Drive to the intersection with Gale Crescent.

48

Turn left (west) on the south side of Gale Crescent and walk 170 m past the Garden City Arena to Geneva St.

49

Turn left on Geneva Street. Walk south on Geneva Street for 70 m. At the traffic light, CAREFULLY continue walking SOUTH, crossing over the slip road from Hwy 406.

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

50

After you cross the slip road from Hwy 406, immediately turn right (west) and cross Geneva Street on the pedestrian crosswalk to the sidewalk on the south side of McGuire Street.

CAUTION: High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

51

Continue west then southwest on the south side of McGuire Street. When you reach the end of the sidewalk near the intersection with Carlisle Street, CAREFULLY cross over to the sidewalk on the opposite side of McGuire Street. Continue southwest along McGuire Street. You will pass in front of the construction sites for new Brock University campus and the St. Catharines spectator facility.

CAUTION: Construction area. High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

52

Continue walking southwest along Maguire Street, which goes past the 406 entrance ramp and under the Westchester Avenue viaduct.

CAUTION: Construction area. High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

53

At the foot of St. Paul Crescent, turn left across Maguire Street and enter the Merritt Trail.

CAUTION: Construction area. High traffic area - Please proceed carefully!

Walk over Hwy 406 on the pedestrian footbridge and turn right, following the ramp down into the valley of Twelve Mile Creek. Follow the trail along the creek (350 m) to the steel truss bridge.

54

Turn left (south) onto the St. Paul Crescent pedestrian Truss Bridge and cross Twelve Mile Creek.

55

Continue straight ahead (south) along St. Paul Crescent for 350 m towards the entrance of Rodman Hall. (Alternatively - if conditions permit - you can make your way diagonally across the front lawn and up the hill to the Rodman Hall car park).

56

Turn left into Rodman Hall Drive and enter the grounds of Rodman Hall Arts Centre. Stage 3 ends at the front door of Rodman Hall (120 m).



Toilets at Rodman
Hall

STAGE 4 - RODMAN HALL TO ROTARY PARK

Click here for a live Google map of Stage 4

57

Leave the front entrance of Rodman Hall and turn right towards the entrance of the Walker Botanical Gardens.

58

Follow the staircase down through the Walker Botanical Gardens past the outdoor amphitheatre. Remain on the path as it winds down the hillside until it emerges on the main Laura Secord Legacy Trail (350 m).

59

Turn right and walk south along the wide gravelled expanse of the Laura Secord Legacy Trail (former Participark Trail).

60

Cross under the CN Rail Bridge (450 m) and continue south on the Laura Secord Legacy Trail.

61

About 900 m south of the CN Rail Bridge, you will pass the intersection with the Western Hill Side Trail, which hairpins up the bluffs under the power lines to the right. Continue south on the main Laura Secord Legacy Trail.

62

Follow the Legacy Trail for an additional 700 m to the intersection with the Glendale Avenue Pedestrian Bridge at Old Glendale Avenue.

63

Make a left turn towards the pedestrian bridge (40 m) but do not cross it. Instead, turn right and follow the Laura Secord Legacy Trail south past the OPG barrier gate and under the Glendale Avenue overpass (60 m).

64

Continue south on the Laura Secord Legacy Trail.

After about 900 m, you will come upon a large stormwater retention pond on your right. Follow the path along the southeastern edge the pond (50 m), then bear left (south) on the main trail which parallels Twelve Mile Creek.

65

Stay on the trail as it crosses Elk Street Flats, a low-lying area that is undergoing reforestation. After 600 m you will come to a small rise, where you will begin your ascent to Rotary Park.

66

After 160 m, the main gravel trail will make a sharp left turn towards a leachate pumping station. Do not follow it ; instead, bear RIGHT at this corner and follow the trail WEST for 100 m towards the stand of pine trees on the hillside (Rotary Pines North).

67

Follow the earthen path up the hillside through Rotary Pines North and enter the north side of Rotary Park.

Stage 4 ends at the big yellow and blue Rotary Garden monument in Rotary Park.



Porta-
potties at
Rotary Park


STAGE 5 - ROTARY PARK TO DECEW HOUSE

Click here for a live Google map of Stage 5

68

From the front of the Rotary Garden monument, walk south on the path and cross the parking lot.

On the opposite side of the parking lot you will see a gravelled path that heads south, and then bends left (east) through a stand of pine trees (Rotary Pines South) towards the valley of the Twelve Mile Creek. Follow this pathway down the hillside and into the valley.

69

The path will emerge into a wide powerline right-of-way and curve right (south). Across Twelve Mile Creek to your left, you will be able to see the DeCew Power Generating Station on the opposite (east) bank.

70

Cross the power line right of way under the power lines and continue into the woods on the opposite side. Continue down the trail as it descends into the valley of Twelve Mile Creek.

71

At the bottom of the valley, the trail emerges by the gate of the DeCew Power Generating Station, at the foot of Tailrace Road.

72

You will see the access gate to the DeCew Power Generating Station. Follow the narrow pathway which parallels the chain-link fence to the right of this gate.

CAUTION: This section of the trail is narrow, rutted, and can be very wet, muddy, and slippery. Proceed carefully!

When the fence ends, bear left on the trail and climb up on the slight rise to the old DeCew Power Plant access path. Follow the earthen trail south along the (now much narrower) channel of Twelve Mile Creek.

73

In 650 m, to your left you will see the ruins of the old Peter Thomas Mill Dam across Twelve Mile Creek. You can view it from a small lookout to the left of the main trail. Return to the main trail and continue south.

74

About 50 m south of the Mill Dam, you will come to a trail junction. Bear RIGHT and follow the gravelled section of trail as it climbs the 'hogsback' ridge. Follow the hogsback trail until it descends near the entrance to the Bridge at Laura's Crossing.

75

Cross the Bridge at Laura's Crossing into Laura's Meadow.

76

Follow the gravelled trail from the Bridge up to the 'Bench on the Bench', a log seating area on the escarpment slope (250 m).

77

At the Bench, the trail splits (left or right). You can take either path (both paths will converge further up the escarpment).

78

Continue climbing the trail until it intersects the Bruce Trail at the top of the escarpment.

Follow the trail southwest towards the 'nose' (370 m), and then back eastward overlooking the valley of Beaverdams Creek for 450 m. You will soon see the gorge of DeCew Falls on your right, as you approach at DeCew Falls and Morningstar Mill.

NOTE: The Laura Secord Legacy Trail turns left and heads northeast just before you get to the DeCew Falls lookout and the Morningstar Mill property. If you choose to visit the Mill, note the trail junction where the Laura Secord Legacy Trail continues so you can return and continue your walk.



Porta-potties at
Morning-
star Mill


79

Follow the trail to the left (northeast) for 200 m alongside the west edge of Niagara Region's DeCew Water Treatment Plant. (On your left is DeCew's Field, the area where Laura Secord is believed to have encountered the First Nations warriors who took her to see Lt. James Fitzgibbon at DeCew House).

80

About 50m past the pumping station building and opposite the two round settling ponds at the water treatment plant, the trail turns left towards the stone berm surrounding Lake Moodie (the reservoir for the DeCew Power Generating Stations). You will leave the paved access road and follow the gravel trail northeast past the small stand of trees. Carefully climb the stone berm and bear right along the trail on top of the berm along the south edge of the reservoir.

81

Stay on the trail atop the berm as it travels eastward along the south edge of the reservoir. After 500 m it curves east and follows the north side of DeCew Road for 200 m, then angles back along the edge of the reservoir for 130 m until it descends to grade level.

82

The trail follows a short section of the shoreline of Lake Moodie and heads east through forest and meadow (400 m). The trail then turns left (north) for 80 m, and then makes a sharp right turn towards the southeast. This final approach to DeCew House follows the swift-flowing channel connecting Lake Moodie and Lake Gibson for 300 m before emerging at DeCew House Heritage Park.

83

Congratulations!!! You have arrived at Decew House, which is the end of Stage 5 (and of the Laura Secord Legacy Trail).



Porta-
potties at
DeCew House Heritage Park


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.


A TOAST TO LAURA SECORD

The Source's Elizabeth Hall attended Queenston Heights Restaurant on the evening of Friday, June 21st, 2013. Here she reports on the Commemorative Event to toast Laura Secord on her contribution to Canadian history on the 200th anniversary of Secord's epic journey. (Courtesy Cogeco Niagara)

Event: June 21st, 2013 - Published: Jun 22, 2013