Laura Secord Trek

This trail follows Laura Secord's 27 km (17 mile) journey on June 22nd, 1813 to warn the British of an impending American attack which helped secure victory in the decisive Battle of Beaverdams.

The trail starts at the memorial to Laura Ingersoll on Queenston Heights. She was born in 1775 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Her father, Thomas Ingersoll, moved to Upper Canada in 1795. He was first a tavern keeper in Queenston, but later moved west to establish the town of Oxford-on-the-Thames, near London, Ontario, later renamed 'Ingersoll' in the family's honour.

In 1797 Laura married James Secord, son of James Secord Senior, a lieutenant in the British military detachment of Butler's Rangers. The couple eventually settled in Queenston, where James became a shopkeeper. They had one son and six daughters. By 1812 they were well-established merchants living in what is now the Laura Secord House in Queenston.

However, tensions continued to escalate along the Niagara frontier, and James joined the First Lincoln Militia as a sergeant. On October 13, 1812, a small force led by Major General Sir Isaac Brock who was killed in the battle successfully opposed an attack on Queenston by American General Stephen Van Rensselaer. James Secord was seriously injured in the fight. Laura searched for her husband among the dead and wounded on the battlefield. She helped him home and tended to his wounds. He spent many months recuperating while the war raged on.

In June 1813, Queenston was in hostile territory following the American capture of Fort George and the surrounding area. That month, American officers forced their way into the Secord home and demanded to be fed and billeted. While tending to the enemy soldiers, Laura overheard them talking of their plans for a surprise attack on British Lieutenant James FitzGibbon and his troops at Beaverdams. James was still incapacitated because of his war injuries, so Laura herself set out to warn FitzGibbon. She walked 18km from Queenston through St. Davids, Homer, and Shipman's Corners (now St. Catharines), along the valley of the Twelve Mile Creek, and up the steep Niagara Escarpment to the British headquarters at DeCew House, on the west edge of Thorold where the trail ends.

For fear of detection, Laura avoided the main roads, braving the rough terrain of the forests and creek valleys. Near evening, she arrived exhausted and disheveled at a camp of allied Native warriors, who led her to FitzGibbon at DeCew house. There, she informed him of the incipient American attack.

FitzGibbon marshalled two contingents of Iroquois allies, led by Dominique Ducharme and William Johnson Kerr. They ambushed the advancing Americans, who sustained serious casualties in the attack but still had more men and firepower than could be mustered by the British and Natives. However, FitzGibbon rode out under a white flag and convinced Boerstler that the massed British and Iroquois forces were much more substantial than the American troops, leading to an American surrender. FitzGibbon's audacious bluff resulted in victory at the Battle of Beaverdams, and enshrined him, his Iroquois allies, Laura Secord, and DeCew House in the annals of Canadian history. No mention was made of Laura Secord in the official reports of the time.

Widespread recognition of Laura Secord came late in life. In 1860 King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, visited Canada to dedicate the first Parliament Buildings. Queenston was among the stops, where he dedicated the cenotaph where Isaac Brock fell in the battle against the American invaders. He also visited Queenston Heights, where he received a document signed by War of 1812 veterans. The lone female signatory captured the attention of the Prince. Impressed by her story, the prince sent Laura Secord 100 pounds after his return to England. The award brought her considerable public attention for the first time, and was the only financial recognition that she received in her life. She is buried in Drummond Hill Cemetery on Lundy's Lane.

Legend
Canadian Points of Interest
  • Historic Plaque or Marker
  • Historic Site Opened & Staffed Year Round
  • Historic Site Opened & Staffed Seasonall
  • Point on Private Property, Inaccessible or Unmarked (location may be approximate)
American Points of Interest
  • Historic Plaque or Marker
  • Historic Site Opened & Staffed Year Round
  • Historic Site Opened & Staffed Seasonall
  • Point on Private Property, Inaccessible or Unmarked (location may be approximate)
Aboriginal Points of Interest
  • Six Nations/Native American