Tag Archives: laura-secord

The Next Time You Bite into Laura Secord– The Sweet Facts

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Photo from Laura Secord

 

Text From Laura Secord with interjections from me Linda Seccaspina after I read about her for a couple of days. Next time you bite into a Laura Secord egg think about this story…..

 

Secord, best known today as the namesake of a popular confectionary chain, led a fairly well-documented life. Born Laura Ingersoll in Massachusetts in 1775, she emigrated to Upper Canada with her father in 1795 and eventually settled at Queenston, part of present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., according to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

She married Canadian merchant James Secord in 1797, had seven children and — according to some accounts of her life — helped her wounded husband limp to safety during the October 1812 Battle of Queenston Heights, a home-side victory marred by the death of British commander Maj.-Gen. Isaac Brock.


It all began during the War of 1812 in the region of Queenston, now known as the Niagara Peninsula. Laura’s husband James was a sergeant in the militia; when he went missing after a battle, Laura searched for him among the dead and wounded in the battlefield. She found him bleeding from gunshot wounds and helped him home where she treated his injuries.

Author’s Note–That summer of 1813  was when the war became a secret war with soldiers from both sides disguised as civilians pretending to be on one side or the other. They all went back and forth across the border with ease, and since everyone spoke the same language; it was hard to decipher who was friend and who was foe.

During James’s convalescence, the war continued, and the region was captured by enemy troops. However, neither the Americans nor the British had firm control. One day in June 1813, American officers went to the Secord home and requested dinner. As she served them, Laura listened carefully as they discussed plans to launch a surprise attack on the British outpost at DeCew House, which was under Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon’s command.

The Secords, who had remained loyal to the British Crown and dedicated to the defence of the colony, knew that Fitzgibbon must be warned of the imminent attack – failing which, the Niagara Peninsula as a whole would fall to the Americans. As James was disabled due to his wounds and unable to walk, Laura took it upon herself to make the trek to DeCew House.

Author’s Note–Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon headed a group of soldiers called ‘The Bloody Boys” and on June 23 just after sunset a slight and delicate Loyalist by the name of Laura Secord arrived at the DeCew House with a message for Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon.

 

At dawn the next day, Laura began her 32-kilometre journey, which would require 18 hours. The roads she walked on led to the home of her sister-in-law where her half-brother lay ill in bed – a circumstance that would serve as an explanation for Laura’s journey should American patrols ask questions. When she arrived, Laura revealed the true purpose of her mission. Her niece Elizabeth offered to accompany her.



Now avoiding the main roads, Laura and Elizabeth chose a difficult path along the course of Twelve Mile Creek, which flowed past DeCew House. Elizabeth, however, was not endowed with her aunt’s stamina; after tramping through fields and woods, she collapsed, leaving Laura to complete the most hazardous part of the journey alone. In the evening, Laura arrived hungry and exhausted at a Native camp and persuaded the chief to take her to British headquarters. Once there, she alerted the Lieutenant of the surprise attack.

Author’s Note–At first the Lieutenant and his crew doubted her but— she had not struggled 19 miles through the dreaded Black Swamp in the boiling sun from Queenston through St. David’s and a treacherous morass on a whim. An unproven rumour flimsy as gossamer it could not be.

Two days later, on June 24, 1813, British and Native troops intercepted the Americans and forced their surrender at the Battle of Beaver Dams. In 1814, the peace treaty came into effect, and the border between the United States and Canada has never seen hostility since.

Author’s Note–Had someone whispered something in Laura Secord’s ear? Her invalid husband and children could have been easily the object of revenge  in this peninsula of tangled loyalties. Everyone else the family had friends on both sides of the border as the people moved freely then between the both countries.

Although Laura Secord received 100 pounds from England’s Prince of Wales in 1860, many years would elapse before her brave feat was recognized as an act of heroism. After her death, two monuments were erected in her memory: one was built by the Government of Canada in Queenston; and the other by the Ontario Historical Society at Lundy’s Lane.

Author’s Note–Her story was told and retold adding to a myth that the war of 1812 was won by real true blood Canadians. But in reality, the story fit in with John Strachan’s  writings that the Canadian militia, and not the British regulars or Indians, were the real heroes of the world.

In a tale told to every Canadian schoolchild ever since, Laura Secord is described hiking almost 32 kilometres through darkened woods — possibly leading a cow as a diversionary tactic. Laura added a cow to her story in later years even though not one animal was involved or hurt in this tale. However, the bravery of Laura Secord has always been part of our Canadian folklore.

“Heroes like Laura Secord helped define a Canadian national identity. We need to honour the sacrifice of our early settlers and celebrate their achievements.”– Kim Craitor

 

 

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Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls
Paranormal activities include apparitional soldiers, light anomalies, orbs, mysterious mists, spooky footsteps and noises of the historical battle as well as feeling of being watched by the spectres. This is the final resting place of Laura Secord, as well as a lot of the heroes of the War of 1812.

 

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Related Canadian History reading–

Superman is a Dual Citizen – So is Winnie the Pooh – Remember Heritage Minutes?

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

Murder on Maple Island

Would You Duel Anything For Love?

Alternate Ending to The Last Duel?

The Lost Island– Now You See it- Now You Don’t!

The Execution of Alexander Burns — Capital Punishment in Canada

The Thomas Easby Murders in 1829 — Foulest Ever in Lanark County

Not Guilty in the Murder of His Grandmother –George Watt Jr.

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

 

Easter —Do Memories Outweigh the Taste?

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Easter —Do Memories Outweigh the Taste?

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The former bakery across the street from my Grandparents on South Street Cowansville, Quebec- Photo Linda Seccaspina

 

Each Easter my Grandfather would walk across the street to the bakery on South Street in Cowansville and purchase a large chocolate rabbit for myself and a hen for my sister Robin. They had frosting trim, stood three feet tall, and were stored in bright colourful boxes full of enough shredded paper to start a good fire. What Grampy thought we were going to do with this amount of chocolate one only knows, but my Grandmother knew exactly what she was going to do with it.

 

Mary Louise Deller Knight was going to freeze what was left over like everything else that found its way into her kitchen. She was positive the the life span in her freezer was forever and fit whatever she could into the tiny overflowing compartment. Mary would take the half-eaten chocolate creatures outside to her personal tree stump and bash them to death with her trusty hammer much like she axed a frozen turkey in half each Thanksgiving. A few months later in July, she would make some delicious chocolate cake with the frozen leftovers for the annual Oyster Supper that my dad convened at Trinity Anglican Church. I never heard of anyone being sick with food poisoning at that dinner so I would like to think whatever Mary did with her leftovers was always within the health code.

 

 

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Photo- Ville De Cowansville-–  South Street-my Grandparents home was right next to the telephone booth and I can see the Dairy down on the right.

 

Not content with his parents giving his overweight daughter an Olympic size piece of chocolate my Father would hand me a traditional Laura Secord Egg bought at Varin’s Drugstore across the street. When that yellow box came out the family would ooh and awe much like it was a piece of Easter gold. To tell you the truth I never cared much for the taste and sometimes that Laura Secord egg  was still hanging around in some drawer come summer. Today,  I have a different sentiment about the Canadian treasure and I wonder why I disliked it so much. I guess it’s because nostalgia makes it a special memory that tells me a story about my childhood that I find comfort and joy in. No matter where you are when you celebrate a holiday it will forever trigger memories that are always going to be with you. I miss the days when life was simple.

Happy Holiday weekend!

 

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Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  30 Mar 1961, Thu,  Page 51–click on the photo for the whole ad.

 

For the Love of Laura Secord — The Rest of the Story

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This weekend Ancestry.com has a few free days where you can look up immigration records without having to sign up. Yes, one could say it is a field day for me— I immediately went looking for my Grandparents arrival in Canada from the UK. My Grandfather was hard to find but I found my Grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight. I recognized her signature on the bottom of the form. This was a story I wrote about them that was published in Screamin Mamas.

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I see an old yellowed hand written note from October,1915, crudely pasted in a photo book. It is a British armed forces permission slip belonging to my grandfather Frederick J. Knight to go see his young girlfriend Mary Louise Deller in Devon, England for the weekend.  During the hours he will travel by bus to court her, she will be working at a sea side cafe. The ocean breeze will gently blow the hem of her long skirt and she will be greeting people that enter the cafe with her huge smile. It is the very same smile her future granddaughter Linda will wear some day. The heavy white ironstone dishes that the staff line the counter with will be checked carefully by Mary. They will be full of ripe fresh strawberries and thick Devonshire cream with scones on the side. Years later she will tell me every few days about the wonders of Devonshire cream.

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Mary’s favourite song “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows “ will be playing on the radio in the background. She loves Fred but there will be family problems that he will have to contend to first before they even think about marriage. His father will run away from the family to go to New York to become a song writer.  No one will hear from him and Fred’s mother will assume he has died on Ellis Island.  Later that year they will find out that his demise was exactly as they thought, and his dreams of writing music will be over.

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Fred will arrive about noon and since Mary’s shift will not be over for two hours she will serve him some hot soup of the day.  She will personally make him a cucumber sandwich and touch his hand ever so slightly when she serves it. They will gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes and smile and he will tell her she is as beautiful as the falling snowflakes he is about to see when he immigrates to Canada to work for Bell Telephone.

 

The weekend will pass too quickly and Fred will have to go back to fighting the war. They will exchange love letters here and there and Fred will ask Mary Louise to marry him. He will eventually go to the front lines and be poisoned with mustard gas in the trenches. Later his superiors will ask him if he was gassed, and he will reply no, because the soldiers did not know what it was. Fred will be one of the lucky ones to survive. Fred will eventually marry Mary Louise on July 1st. and they will move to Canada. They will live a happy life with their two sons until their oldest son Frederick Jr. dies after having a vaccination at age 19 leaving them with an only child Arthur.

Every Saturday night without fail Fred will carefully go down the wooden cellar steps and pour them each a small glass of sherry from a bottle kept in the basement. After carefully putting the small juice glasses on the side board he will walk across the street to the drugstore once a month and buy a box of Laura Secord Chocolates for them to share. Every Christmas he will buy her an Evening in Paris perfume set and she will cry. Their always darkened bedroom with the twin beds will smell of Evening of Paris for the next twenty years. In the years that she spends with her grandparents Linda will never see them fight once.

Later in his life the effects of mustard gas will haunt him and affect his respiratory system. One Thursday afternoon he will fall and her grandmother in total shock will hold him and cry.  Linda, his granddaughter, will try and save him with mouth to mouth resuscitation. Failing in her attempt he will die under her. Later that day she and her grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight will look through the photo book and her grandmother will stop at the page with the old permission sheet and rub her hands over it and cry.

Each year, the day before Canada’s Day, Fred would go to the same drugstore across the street and buy Mary a box of Laura Secord Summer Candy. While they watched the people celebrate Canada Day from the confines of their veranda he would loving offer her one of the jelly candies and wish her a Happy Anniversary.

Once upon a time Laura Secord only made these candies in the summer, so it was a special treat for the both of them, and today when I saw a box in the store it reminded me of the two of them. I never saw them argue and even though they had been married for years each day was like the first. Their love began in a moment, grew over time, and lasted for eternity. We should all be so lucky!

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place