Secord in Song: Tanglefoot

Tanglefoot - Secord's Warning (2004)

In 2004, Joe Grant and Steve Ritchie, members of the popular Canadian folk ensemble Tanglefoot, wrote a memorable original song about Laura Secord which has become the unofficial walking anthem for the Laura Secord Legacy Trail. Songwriter Joe Grant emailed the President of the Friends of Laura Secord, Caroline McCormick, and encouraged her to get people to learn the song. Here's an enjoyable video tutorial... learn it well, and sing it out heartily as you walk into history, wherever you are!



 
 

SECORD'S WARNING

Tanglefoot

Lyrics and Music: Joe Grant and Steve Ritchie
From the album 'Music in the Woods' – Borealis Records


Come all you brave young soldier lads
With your strong and manly bearing
I'll tell you a tale of a woman bold and her deed of honest daring
Laura Secord was American-born in the state of Massachusets
But she made her home in Canada and proved so faithful to us

Chorus:


There's American guns and 500 men
So the warning must be given
And Laura Ingersoll Secord was the stalwart heart
Who braved the heat and the flies and the swamp
To warn Colonel Fitzgibbon

There's soldiers pounding at the door
And they come from across the border
American officers march inside
It's food and drink they've ordered

In comfort they have dined and drunk
Their own success they've toasted
But they pay no heed to the woman who hears their plan so idly boasted

Oh, James I've overheard it all
A surprise attack they're making
Fitzgibbon they intend to smash
His men for prisoners taking

And James a warning never you'll take with your wounded knee and shoulder
I myself must carry it past the sentries and the soldiers

It's an all-day tramp to the British camp
By way of Shipman's Corners

There're snakes and flies and sweat in her eyes
There is no respite for her
She's lost her shoes in the muck of the bog
Her feet are torn and blistered

But there's many a soldier lad to be spared if the message be delivered

So all you Yankee soldier lads who dare to cross our border
Thinking to save us from ourselves
Usurping British order

There's women and men Canadians all
Of every rank and station
To stand on guard and keep us free
From Yankee domination!



Mapping the trek of Secord's accomplishment

A Message from
HRH Charles
Prince of Wales

The Friends of Laura Secord are pleased and honoured to announce the receipt of a personalized video message from His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, on the occasion of the Bicentennial Celebrations for Laura Secord's famous walk into history and the official opening of the Laura Secord Legacy Trail.

Video was recorded 07 June 2013 at St. James' Palace. First viewed publicly on Friday, 21 June 2013 at the Toast to Laura Secord reception beside the Laura Secord Monument at picturesque Queenston Heights Park, Queenston, Ontario.

 
 
 


A note on pronunciation

HRH Prince Charles uses an acceptable but less widely used variant on the pronounciation of Laura Secord's surname, one which is more common in the United Kingdom than in North America. The ancestors of Laura's husband James Secord were Huguenots (French Protestants) with the original surname Sicard. In the late 1600s, Ambroise Sicard, a French Huguenot born in Mornac, France in 1631, fled from the persecution that followed the Treaty of Nantes, and in the 17th century ended up at New Rochelle. Some of his descendents (like James and his family) became United Empire Loyalists living in Upper Canada. Most of the Secords in Southwestern Ontario are descended from three of Ambroise Sicard's great-grandchildren - John, Peter, and James Secord (Laura Secord's husband).



In addition to evolving towards a more Anglicized spelling, the Secord surname has also undergone changes in pronunciation. Most commonly pronounced as 'SEE-cord', it is also pronounced by some family members as 'SEH-cord'. Other pronunciation variants exist worldwide, notably in Guatemala and Norway, where members of the extended Secord family are known to reside.



 
 

Secord In Song: Rosalee Peppard

 
 

'Laura Secord' - Rosalee Peppard (2004)

 
 

Through a variety of musical voices - from folk to blues to opera - she sings of love, literacy, triumph over loss and shame, heritage, and humour, all soaring on Rosalee's shimmering voice, self-accompanied on guitars and mountain dulcimer. Rosalee connects listeners with a poignant, living past and reminds us of its "presents". She colours each show with traditional and popular songs which are generously "peppered" with wit!

Rosalee writes of her song:

"Laura Secord" is my 2004 song from Laura's first person perspective of her "walk". I think it is the only song from this perspective. It opens with sounds of running through the woods and then "Laura! Laura! Laura!" which is in a musical theme one would associate with First Nations - thus connecting Laura with the Caughnawaga nation throughout the song.

The irony is that Laura and the First Nation warriors made the difference that changed Canadian history, but, in the eyes of the 19th century, Fitzgibbon and his British officers (who never fired a shot in the Battle of Beaverdams) were the credited heroes because she was "just" a woman and they but "red skins" - at that time in history, not "persons", let alone heroes.



LAURA SECORD

Music & lyrics by Rosalee Peppard on "Legacy" CD (SOCAN, 2004)


Laura, Laura, Laura...

My name is Laura Secord
I am running for my life
The war is raging at my door
With musket,drum and fife
My husband lay there wounded
And the enemy's within
Snapping at my children
While I run for FitzGibbon

My name is Laura Secord
I am running night and day
12 wooded miles behind me
God, lead the way
To Beaver Dams, FitzGibbon
And the men who'll set us free
I must not rest for in my breast
I know it's up to me

My name is Laura Secord
I am running though I die
My flesh is torn and bleeding
My throat is parched and dry
Still I will press on boldly
To give FitzGibbon news
The enemy is coming
There is no time to lose

My name is Laura Secord
I am standing face to face
With fierce and mighty warriors
Unknown to me by race
I taste the bitter bile of fear
Yet here I stand my ground
"I?ve come to warn FitzGibbon!
Take me where he can be found!"

My name is Laura Secord
The battle now is o'er
My news had armed FitzGibbon
Caughnawaga won the war
He brandishes a Colonel's rank
And credit for the win
But I am "just a woman"
And they but "red skin"

Laura, Laura, Laura...

My name is Laura Secord
I am running out of time
At 65 though still alive
My body and my mind
Still feel the ache; neglect can take
A silent spoil of war
And now I am a widow
Wondering what my run was for

I ran to save my husband
On Brock's bloody battlefield
I ran to save my children
And the future they would yield
I ran to save my country
I ran till I was lame
But now that I've stopped running
Who?ll remember my name

Laura, Laura, Laura...

My name is Laura Secord
Reward has come at last
Prince Edward sent 100 pounds
To recognize my past
But now at 85, I thrive on irony
So I'll pour a dram for who I am
And raise a glass to me!


Secord In Song: The Brothers In Law

 
 

Secord's Walking Blues (1967)

Centennial year in Canada - 1967 - marked a spate of commemorative projects and activities in all sectors, and musical comedy was no exception. A trio of irreverent musical police officers from the Windsor area - Larry Rheaume, Alec Somerville, and Bob Lee - produced a Centennial record album called 'Expose 67', which took aim at a whole range of Canadian icons and sacred cows - including the apocryphal one that never actually accompanied our heroine Laura Secord.

This absurd portrayal has the redoubtable Mrs. Secord traipsing all over southern Ontario in a pair of squeaky boots, ostensibly to warn Major General Sir Isaac Brock about the impending American attack. The fact that Brock had been dead for eight months when Laura made her famous trek didn't faze these fellows one bit, nor did the fact that she started in Queenston, not Toronto (which didn't even exist then; that city was known as 'York' until 1825). And she never walked through Fort Erie, Hamilton or Stoney Creek either.

But why let historical accuracy get in the way of a bit of musical fun?