Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Laura Secord: The Secret is Out

The Secord homestead, Queenston, Ontario
Laura Secord never boasted of her heroism. For years after her 30 km walk to warn a handful of British soldiers at their outpost at Beaver Dams that they were about to be attacked by an army of five hundred Americans, Laura kept silent about it. She and her husband, James, feared reprisals, and the War of 1812 was long over before it was spoken of, even within her family circle.

Laura did remind the government of her deed in three personal petitions when, years later, the Secords struggled financially. They hoped that James or herself might be given some form of employment by the lieutenant-governor.

In 1860, the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, was to visit Canada and pay homage to the veterans of the War of 1812 and the Rebellion of 1837. Laura, who was then 85, insisted that she be allowed to add her name to an address that the vets were presenting to the royal visitor.

At first, she was refused. But the Niagara Mail and Empire took up her cause in the press. As a result, permission was given for Laura Secord to travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake where she added her signature to the page. She also wrote a petition for the prince where she asked him to tell his mother, Queen Victoria, the story of Laura's service to her country and the Crown.

Whether or not the prince ever saw Laura's personal petition we can't be sure. But someone drew his attention to the lone woman's signature on the veterans' address. The prince was intrigued and began asking questions about Laura Secord.

A year after his visit to Canada the Prince of Wales sent Laura 100 pounds in gold. It was the only remuneration she ever received for her bravery.

For more of this story, please read my newly-released biography, Laura Secord: Heroine of the War of 1812

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