Thursday, November 24, 2011

Laura Secord Country

Laura Secord's House in Queenston 
This is a familiar scene to anyone on the trail of Laura Secord. She and James and their family moved here in 1803, shortly after their third daughter, Harriet, was born. They'd lived in St. Davids for the first few years of their marriage.

The Secords lived in the Queenston house until 1835 when Laura and James moved to Chippawa. The Laura Secord Candy Co. bought the house in 1969 and after restoring it, donated it to the Niagara Parks Commission. The NPC maintains the homestead as a tourist attraction. During the War of 1812 Bicentennial celebrations in 2012-2014, this will be the scene of numerous events.

Scene of the Niagara River from Queenston Heights
The first thing I wanted to do after arriving in Queenston early in November was to take the short drive (four miles) to St. Davids. I wanted to see where Laura went on the first leg of her walk. She left her house before dawn on June 22, 1813 to walk to Beaver Dams and warn the British of the Americans' plan of attack. She apparently took "a circuitous route" to St. Davids, wanting to avoid any American sentries on the road. I could imagine her staying down where the land is low, below the escarpment. 

Also at Queenston, where we saw Mackenzie's Printery, we toured the park atop the Niagara Escarpment, Queenston Heights, and saw Brock's Monument as well as the one to Laura Secord. I was amazed at the height of the escarpment which Laura had to climb in order to find her husband, James, who had been seriously wounded in the Battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812. That was no small feat.

Sculpture of British General Drummond at site of Battle of Lundy's Lane   
The second day of our tour we visited Lundy's Lane where the bloodiest battle of the War of 1812 was fought, and where both Laura and James are buried in the Drummond Hill Cemetery.

 After a picturesque drive along the Niagara River, we arrived in Chippawa, the village that became the Secords' last home. James was the customs collector here from 1835 until his death in 1841. The lived in the Customs House, but later Laura bought a small house on Bridgewater Street, now a private residence. She died at home in 1868, a grand old lady of ninety-three.

I'll tell you the whole story in Laura Secord, Heroine of the War of 1812. Look for it in stores in June, 2012!

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