Laura Secord. The Lost Canadian Heroine of the War of 1812

Essay, 2015

8 Pages, Grade: A


The outcome of the War of 1812 had major implications in the development of not only the United States, but as well as Canada. On 24 June 1812, Great Britain discovered via a messenger that the United States was asserting its power and declaring war against Great Britain.[1] Although greatly outnumbered, Britain’s small but well trained army, commanded by such senior officers as Isaac Brock and George Prevost, was able to fend off the Americans and win the war at the border. This victory was in large part the result of the supporting role played by the Natives and a former American woman whose allegiance to Britain was instrumental in the British maintaining their strategic position and stronghold in Canada. Specifically, Laura Secord, an American born loyalist whose family moved to Upper Canada, “lured by cheap land and low taxes”, dramatically changed the course of Canadian history by playing an essential part in the British Victory at Beaver Dams.[2] Nonetheless, if history affectionately nicknames Secord “The Heroine of the War of 1812”, why did it take half a century to properly compensate and recognize Secord’s instrumental role in supporting the British during the War of 1812 at Beaver Dams? This paper argues that Laura Secord’s heroic actions in June 1813 played an extremely important role in the victory at the Battle of Beaver’s Dam, and her efforts made a significant contribution in shaping Canada’s future. More specifically, by analyzing Secord before, during and after her famous 32 kilometer walk from Queenston to Beaver Dams it is evident that Secord was a pivotal figure in securing the land that would have otherwise have been claimed by the Americans. Despite her vital role Secord was completely ignored by the British and her loyalist countrymen for almost half a century.

Laura Ingersoll was the first-born child to Thomas Ingersoll and Elizabeth Dewey on 13 September 1775.[3] When Laura was just 18 years old, Thomas decided to leave the United States as a Colonial Patriot and moved to Queenston, Upper Canada: “Financial difficulties, a distaste of American policies, the lure of inexpensive land gave Thomas Ingersoll reason to move his family to the Queenston area of Canada in the early 1780’s”.[4] In Queenston the Ingersoll family met the Secord family and Laura Ingersoll and James Secord became good friends. Although still unknown to this day due to records “being burned in [a] fire in 1814, set by enemy troops which wiped out the Secord’s house, farm buildings and mills” Laura and James were married in approximately 1797.[5] Sergeant James Secord fought in the Battle of Queenston Heights with the 1st Lincoln Militia under the command of General Brock; unfortunately he was severely wounded leaving his young wife Laura in a situation that ultimately resulted in her becoming famous.[6]

To fully comprehend the instrumental role Secord had in the War of 1812, it is important to fully understand the details of the British and American strategies and how they are critical to understand Secord’s involvement in helping the British. Peggy Leavey, a noted historian focusing on biographies of Canadian women, comments that: “Britain’s regular troops were busy fighting Napoleon in Europe – in that long war that except for a few short periods lasted from 1792 to 1815 – the number of British soldiers in Upper Canada was small”.[7] With the developing theme of an American numerical advantage and very slow communication systems, the commander of the British Forces in Upper Canada, General Isaac Brock to the dislike of General Prevost decided to attack the Americans before word that of the British offensive on the Americans reached all forts across America.[8] Brock’s bold military attack resulted in a British victory at Fort Michilimackinac and shortly after at Fort Detroit. Once the War of 1812 was officially declared, word spread across The United States and the Americans under the command of Colonel Solomon Van Rensselar crossed the Niagara River in October 1812, moving up the bank to the south side of Queenston Heights to counter attack. This military maneuver by the Americans was of grave concern to General Brock because he believed: “Queenston Heights was the key to holding Upper Canada. If it fell, so would the rest of the province”.[9] Although the British ended up winning the battle at Queenston, unfortunately they lost their leader Major General Brock. In turn, this battle alerted the British to the crucial fact that Queenston did not have the strategic importance they originally thought it did, but rather, Fort George was the strategic foothold the British realized they could not afford surrendering to the Americans.[10] On 25 May 1813 the American fleet under command of Commodore Isaac Chauncey took over Fort George leaving the Niagara Peninsula in a no man’s land situation.[11] With this very strategic victory, the Americans took control of the Niagara River, as well as the road to Queenston. With transportation access to Queenston the Americans were able to move their troops into this key border location and quickly took control of Queenston, which was also home to James and Laura Secord.


[1] Rene, Chartrand. Canadian Military Heritage. Vol. 2. Montréal: Art Global, 1995, 97.

[2] Pierre, Berton. Flames across the Border, 1813-1814. Anchor Canada ed. Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2001, 253.

[3] Ruth, Mackenzie. Laura Secord: The Legend and the Lady. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972, 17.

[4] Marsha Ann, Tate. "Looking for Laura Secord on the Web: Using a Famous Figure from the War of 1812 as a Model for Evaluating Historical Web Sites."The History Teacher 38, no. 2 (2005): 227.

[5] Mackenzie, 25.

[6] Mackenzie, 31.

[7] Peggy Dymond, Leavey. Laura Secord Heroine of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2012, 50.

[8] Leavey, 53.

[9] Leavey, 57.

[10] Leavey, 61-72.

[11] Leavey, 72-76 and Mackenzie, 41.

Excerpt out of 8 pages


Laura Secord. The Lost Canadian Heroine of the War of 1812
HIE 203: Canadian History
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
393 KB
Laura Secord, Canadian History, History, War of 1812, American Histoy
Quote paper
Blake Sullivan (Author), 2015, Laura Secord. The Lost Canadian Heroine of the War of 1812, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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