Who was Laura Secord?
Laura Secord was a housewife and mother who became a heroine of the War of 1812 by warning the British army about an attack from the Americans. Her story has been embellished over the years, and she has since become almost a legendary figure in Canadian folklore.
Originally from Massachusetts, Laura moved with her family to the Niagara region of what was then called Upper Cananda (now Ontario) in 1895. There she met and married James Secord, and by 1812 they had five children together. When the war broke out between the British and Americans, Laura’s husband became a soldier. He was badly wounded in a battle.
According to the story, although some believe this has been greatly exaggerated, Laura heard of her husband’s injuries and rushed to the battlefield to help him. She saw three American soldiers beating him, and begged them to spare her husband’s life. The captain of the American soldiers, upon seeing this, let Laura and James go. Laura then spent the next several months nursing her husband back to health.
A few months later, in May of 1813, the Americans attacked Niagara and won, successfully taking over the territory where Laura lived with her family. One night about a month later, she overheard some American soldiers talking about their plan to ambush the British troops the next day. With her husband still recovering from his injuries, Laura knew it was up to her to warn the British about the surprise attack.
That night, she began the 32 km walk through enemy territory to get to the British camp. According to the legend, it took her 17 hours to arrive, but it was a success! With her advanced warning, the British and their allies, the Mohawk, were able to defend themselves against the American army, saving many lives.
Laura died in 1868 and has since had several schools and museums named after her, as well as having statues made in her image. Her story still lives on in books, poetry, and plays, and she will always be an important figure in Canadian history due to her bravery and perseverance.