A Look Inside
Canada’s most famous heroine
The home of Canada’s most famous heroine, step back in time with a visit to the lovingly restored Laura Secord Homestead. Hear how this brave woman lived before and after her perilous journey in service to her country.
A Virtual Visit of the Laura Secord Homestead
The Homestead was the home of Laura Secord and her family from 1803 to 1835.
The home was the starting point of Laura Secord’s 32-kilometer journey to warn the British of an imminent surprise attack by the Americans in June of 1813 during the War of 1812.
This is really the start of Laura’s story.
While American forces occupied Niagara in 1813, the British didn’t want the Americans to get too comfortable. A raiding party of 50 men were sent to cause a lot of trouble and then leave before they could be caught.
Lt. James FitzGibbon, a British soldier, was considered by the Americans to be the worst trouble-maker. He set up camp with his men about 32 kilometers from the Homestead. During the week of June 21st, Lt. FitzGibbon, had captured three American soldiers.
American Captain Cyrenius Chapin, still angry about his men being captured, made the mistake of boasting about a plan to attack Lt. FitzGibbon’s camp while demanding supper in Laura’s home. The plan was to march 600 men on Decew House to capture the enemy and secure the house.
Laura overheard everything. She and her husband, James, made a plan for her to walk the 32 kilometers to Decew House on June 22nd to warn Lt. FitzGibbon about the attack before the Americans would make it.
It was because of Laura’s bravery that FitzGibbon’s force, along with hundreds of Haudenosaunee and Caughnawaga warriors defeated the Americans and took more than 500 prisoners and two field cannon. This victory prevented the American forces from coming any further into Canada.
The parlour was meant to impress anyone visiting, while making sure you were tasteful about it. A few expensive and well placed objects would show you were not only wealthy, but had an understanding of social protocol.
All the furniture inside the parlour is pressed up against the walls, and while this was normal for a Georgian home, the Regency people were moving their furniture almost every day.
The fold-top desk was a perfect place for James Secord to do his record keeping for his general store. The store was on the front corner of the property and is how the Secords made their money. Unfortunately, the store was destroyed during the Battle of Queenston Heights, leaving the Secords with no way of bringing in income until James became a Custom’s Collector in 1835.
It is rumoured that the kitchen is where Laura overheard the details about the impending American attack on Lt. FitzGibbon’s camp.
She and her daughters would have spent most of the day in the kitchen looking after the fire and making meals or preserving food.
In Queenston, many families in the area would have left after the first invasion. The Secord home would have been one of few with smoke still coming out of the chimney, cuing the Americans that food could be found inside, which is why Americans were inside Laura’s home when she overheard the plans. Forts generally had poor food and few supplies, so it was not uncommon for soldiers to venture out to eat.
In some cases, villagers would have been paid to bake or cook by the soldiers, but in most cases the soldiers had muskets, so you would do as you were told.
The Master Bedroom
This is the room where Laura, James and their youngest child would have slept. It is also where James would have been recovering from the two musket ball wounds he suffered during the Battle of Queenston Heights. He was shot twice, once in the shoulder and once in the knee.
James was assigned to the First Lincoln. His knowledge of mathematics from running the General Store made him the best candidate for looking after the artillery.
While James struggled to recover from his injuries, Laura tried to find work. However she was passed over multiple times for someone else who had also experienced hardships during the War.
The Children's Room
Laura was 37 years old when she did her walk. She had five children at the time and had two more after the War. There were 21 years between the eldest and youngest children.
Descendants of Laura Secord can be found worldwide, including the Niagara region. However, the Secord surname coming from Laura and James is rare as they only had one boy to carry on the family name, who descendants moved to Guatemala for missionary work.