Friday, October 23, 2015

Laura Secord

August 2015 - Queenston ON

We spent a lovely morning roaming the Laura Secord Homestead with friends.

Facts and Figures

The Laura Secord Homestead was:
the residence of Canadian heroine Laura Secord from 1803 to 1835;
ransacked by invading American soldiers during the Battle of Queenston Heights in October of 1812, during the War of 1812;
the starting point of Laura Secord's perilous 32-kilometre (20 mile) journey to warn the British of an imminent American surprise attack in June of 1813 during the War of 1812;
restored and furnished with original furniture by the Laura Secord Candy Company in 1971 and gifted to The Niagara Parks Commission in 1998.

Laura Ingersoll Secord was a heroine of the War of 1812.

It was from this Queenston homestead that Laura Secord began the journey that has earned her a place in Canadian history. The Secords had been ordered to billet American soldiers in their home. On the evening of June 21, 1813, Laura and her husband James overheard an American plan of an impending attack on British forces. The Americans were planning an assault against Lt. James Fitzgibbon at Beaverdams. With that position captured, the Americans could control the entire Niagara Peninsula. Upon hearing the plan, the Secords knew that Fitzgibbon must be warned. Injured at the Battle of Queenston Heights the previous October, James could not attempt the journey. Despite the danger and harsh unsettled country, Laura decided she would go to warn Fitzgibbon. Her journey along a 32 km (20 mile) treacherous route took more than 18 hours to complete. The dangers of such a journey were many - wolves, wildcats and rattlesnakes were common in the peninsula at this time, as were unfriendly Native forces. A woman walking alone toward enemy lines risked being arrested or even shot. At Beaverdams, Laura encountered Native forces who were allies of the British. Upon hearing her news, they accompanied her to DeCew house where she was able to deliver her vital message to Fitzgibbon. As a result, the Native forces, under the command of John Norton and Dominique Ducharme, ambushed the invading Americans and defeated them at the Battle of Beaverdams, June 24, 1813.

The Homestead features authentic furnishings of the 1812 period. The company's signature chocolates and ice cream are available in an annex building, which was built where the original summer kitchen is thought to have been located.

Calling cards.

A cone of sugar cane denoted a family's wealth. Sugar was extremely expensive at the time.

These playing cards had moral lessons on the bottom because folks in the late 1700s and early 1800s considered card playing immoral.

She married the wealthy James Secord, likely in June 1797. The Secord family originated in France, where the name was spelled D'Secor or Sicar. Five Secord brothers, who were Protestant Huguenots, fled from persecution in France and founded New Rochelle, New York in 1688. At the time of the American Revolution, Loyalist members of the family anglicized their surname to Secord.

Secord gave birth to her first child, Mary, in St. Davids in 1799. Mary was followed by Charlotte (1801), Harriet (10 February 1803), Charles Badeau (1809—the only male child) and Appolonia (1810).

Love that name, Appolonia!

This name of a third century Christian martyr has an exotic, appealing feel in the modern world. It first came to American attention via Prince's love interest in the film Purple Rain.

St. Apollonia of Alexandria propelled her name into great popularity in the Middle Ages; her name is invoked against toothaches.

Apolonia, one 'l', is the name of a character in John Steinbeck's novel, The Pearl.

Getting into the spirit of the times.

Although Laura was due much of the credit for the victory, her heroism was soon forgotten. It wasn't until 1860, almost fifty years later, that Laura received recognition of her act during a visit by Edward, Prince of Wales. She died in 1868 at the age of 93 and is buried in Drummond Hill Cemetery. In 2003, the Minister of Canadian Heritage designated Laura Secord a Person of National Historic Significance for her heroic actions during the War of 1812.

Click here to visit the Campbell House in Toronto.

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  1. Beautiful shots. I've never been there, though I've been in the area many times. I like the look of the place.

  2. Oh I love this. So interesting. The cards, the little pillows, the sugar, the furnishings. Thanks for giving me a peek.

  3. What a fun place to visit. The sugar cone is very interesting. I love looking at historical settings. Thanks!

  4. I think every Canadian knows her story. If not the story, the chocolate.

  5. Gorgeous photos! I love visiting old houses and learning about the former residents. Those pillows with the names are such a special touch. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  6. Very interesting!

    ​Here is my ​post


    1. Thank you for showing us inside the house. I've only ever wandered around outside and have often thought it looked quite big for the era.

  7. Interesting post, Jackie. A lady I have never heard of and a beautiful home. Thanks for sharing links! :)

  8. Love that sugar cone. Shells were used for money by Native Americans and in China it was blocks of tea, real things, not paper printed money. Love the simple furnishings but not the uptight attitude that playing cards was bad.

  9. Lots of great information. The preservation of that time in history is so great. - Margy

  10. A wonderful post! Filled with great information and awesome photos! Loved reading about this forgotten bit of history! Her homestead and its furnishing are fascinating. I particularly loved the bridal trunk, and I loved how you inserted bits of trivia, like about the name Appolonia. Awesome that Laura Ingersoll Secord is finally getting the recognition she deserves! There are so many unsung heroes from history, people who gave so much and are now's sad.

  11. Well hello from Exeter, Devonshire, England, where there are still Gibbons families!

  12. isn't it a small world? Exeter calling here!

  13. I dredged back in my memories to try to remember who Laura Secord was, but no luck! I grew up in Canada but there are big gaps in what I remember of the history. Unsurprisingly, I do remember the stores selling chocolate and ice cream. :)


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