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Laura Secord: A Great Canadian
by Jennifer

The name Laura Secord is a familiar one to chocolate lovers, and a timely one to remember as Valentine's Day approaches on February 14. But as few know of the personal valour of this great Canadian, and the role she played in saving the lives of British soldiers in the War of 1812, it's valuable to stop here to consider the life of this extraordinary person.

The War of 1812 began with France and Britain, but soon the Americans became involved and declared war on the British. In 1813, Laura's hometown of Queenston, Ontario was American-occupied. Forced to provide food for enemy soldiers late one summer's evening, she stole outside to listen to what they said. She learned that shortly the Americans were to ambush British troops at nearby Beaver Dams. Someone had to warn the British, quickly.

As her husband was convalescing from another battle, Laura decided to go herself. In the dark of the early morning, Laura slipped into the woods to begin her long journey, alone, on foot, and unarmed. The route by the main road would have been much faster, but American sentries were posted everywhere in the town. Her capture would have meant her death; that was the penalty for spies. Intense summer heat, thick brush and weary, clinging kilometres of swampland threatened to overwhelm Laura, but she persevered, pushing on through a long, 18-hour trek.

Finally, aided by some First Nations guides, she arrived at Beaver Dams, where she was brought before Lieutenant Fitzgibbons. She blurted out her news before finally succumbing to exhaustion at his feet. Her flight saved the British outpost and more; the British were able to reverse the battle and take several hundred American soldiers captive. Laura Secord was a great Canadian and a powerful illustration of the adage that one person can make a difference— then, even a woman!

For more information, including quizzes, animated GIF battles and Video Clips on the War of 1812, go to: Battles and Video Clips

For more on Canadian women in history, try the National Library of Canada

(February 10, 2002)

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Weekly Feature Index

(Includes all 2002 to date Weekly Features with descriptions)