Canada’s Heroes: Laura Secord

by Jim on 21 September 2009

One of the things we wanted to do in Canada was introduce our children to … well, Canada!  They really know very little about the country, geography, history, culture, and so on.  So we tried to teach them various things as we drove around the country.

One thing we did was talk about two specific Canadian heroes – one male, one female.  In case you don’t know about them, I thought I’d give you a brief overview, and share the books that we got that talk about them.  Today, the first hero…

Laura Secord

Laura Secord: A Story of Courage
Recommended for kids:
Laura Secord: A Story of Courage

Laura Secord was a heroine from the War of 1812.  At that time, the United States had invaded Canada, and Laura’s husband James was wounded in the fighting with the Canadian/British forces.  Laura found her husband on the field of battle and brought him home – heroic, but that’s not the main part of the story.

Laura’s home was for a time in occupied territory.  American soldiers came to her door, demanding a meal.  While they were there, Laura overheard their plans – a surprise attack of British troops under Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon.

With her husband still wounded in bed, Laura took it upon herself to make the hazardous journey through occupied territory (and rattlesnake infested territory too) to Beaver Dams to warn Fitzgibbon.  It was about 30km / 19mi.

She arrived at the home of Captain John DeCew (or DeCow), who was my Great Great Great Grandfather, where Fitzgibbon had made his headquarters.  There she warned him of the attack.

The British and their Native allies were able to turn the tables on the US forces.  Colonel Charles Boerstler of the US Infantry surrendered, with 484 of his men.

(Incidentally, Captain DeCew wasn’t home at this time.  He was a prisoner in Philadelphia awaiting execution.  But he managed to escape and make it home – good thing, because my Great Great Grandmother Eliza was born 11 years later!)

We visited the home of Laura Secord, where she began her journey.  I asked what impact this had on the war.  Our guide was of the opinion that it kept the US back from further encroachment on Canadian territory.  In the end, borders were unchanged (former President Thomas Jefferson had believed that conquering Canada would be "a mere matter of marching").

Laura was a so-called ordinary woman (is there such a thing?) who showed great courage in extraordinary times.  And almost 200 years later, we’re celebrating 200 years of peace and friendship between two countries who were once at war.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Grandma C. September 23, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Needless to say, I’m glad that Captain Decew escaped too. Because his daughter Eliza was my great grandmother on my mother’s side of the family. We wouldn’t be “us” without her! 🙂

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