When people think of Laura Secord, many associate that name with the chocolate company. But did you know Laura Secord is one of Canada’s most famous heroines? You can tour the Laura Secord Homestead in the quiet village of Queenston, just below Queenston Heights in Niagara-on-the-Lake!
Located just a short 10 minute drive from Niagara Falls and 15 minutes from Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Laura Secord Homestead is a worthy stop for anyone interested in the history of the War of 1812, and the story behind Canada’s beloved heroine.
And yes – you can buy chocolate here too. 😉
It was because of Laura Secord’s bravery that the British forces, along with hundreds of First Nations warriors, defeated the Americans and prevented any further American forces from coming into Canada.
A visit to the Laura Secord Homestead is a great stop for anyone visiting Niagara Falls. You’ll learn about her life and legacy while getting a glimpse into how she and her family lived during the 1800s.
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Who was Laura Secord?
Laura Secord was born in 1775 in the colonial Province of Massachusetts Bay. In 1795, her family and other Loyalist refugees came to Queenston, in Canada.
Laura’s father, Thomas Ingersoll, realized that depressed economic conditions following the Revolutionary War would’ve made it difficult for him to support his family.
He met with Mohawk leader, Joseph Brant, in New York City who offered to show him some land for settlement in Upper Canada.
Eventually, Laura Secord’s family moved on but she remained. She met James Secord and had 7 children together.
Laura Secord history
As one of the most recognized heroines of the War of 1812, Laura Secord plucked up the courage to leave her home and walk 32 kilometres to DeCew House in Thorold. She did this to warn the British of an impending attack by the Americans.
On June 21, 1813, Americans barged their way into her home which she shared with her husband, James. They ordered her to feed them dinner and spoke freely about their plans to try and defeat the British Army.
The plan was to march 600 men to DeCew House and secure the building.
You may be wondering why they would speak about their plans with Laura around, but they assumed she was a female “who didn’t know any different”, thus assuming what they spoke about wouldn’t go any further.
Fun fact: James Secord was actually home while all of this was happening. He was wounded and was laying upstairs in bed.
Laura Secord Homestead Tour
The home found in Queenston is where Laura Secord lived with her family from 1803-1835. It was purchased by the candy company in the 60s and lovingly restored to what it would’ve been like when Laura Secord lived there.
The homestead was gifted to Niagara Parks in the late 90s.
Take a tour through this charming 1.5 storey home and hear how Laura’s bravery and courage prevented a surprise attack by the Americans on the British. Costumed interpreters will give you a quick backstory of who Laura Secord was and what she did before stepping inside the historic home.
You’ll be able to see the living room and kitchen as well as the bedrooms Laura and her husband James shared, along with the room their children shared.
Don’t miss out on taking a look at the museum containing information about artefacts found in Queenston and the lives of some prominent people who played important roles during the War of 1812.
You can also purchase light refreshments, ice cream, souvenirs, and of course – the Laura Secord chocolates everyone loves.
Adults 13+: $10.25 (included in the Niagara Parks Annual Pass)
Children 3-12: $6.75
2 and under: free
Laura Secord’s Walk
Laura and her husband devised a plan for her to get to Decew House – 32 km away – before the Americans, to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon of the impending attack.
Did you know: You can see the ruins of the Decew House in present-day Thorold!
This unfathomable journey took her 18 hours to do. She was 37 at the time and had 5 children at the time. She had 2 after the war and their ages spanned 21 years apart from eldest to youngest.
The fact that she did this is astounding – if she was caught by the Americans, it would’ve almost certainly resulted in death.
Laura set off in her regular clothes to not draw any attention to herself, but still struggled with exhaustion, making her way through deep brush, and then coming face-to-face with a Chief of an Iroquois tribe. Fortunately this tribe understood her pleas, and assisted her to her final destination.
Laura Secord managed to warn James FitsGibbon just in time. Because of what she did, the British were able to prepare and even had help from the friendly Iroquois warriors.
As the story goes, the British made a surprise attack on the Americans on their surprise attack of the British.
By the way, in the children’s room at the Laura Secord Homestead, you’ll be able to see a pair of shoes similar to what Laura would’ve worn during her arduous 32 km journey.
I looked at my husband and thought to myself – I can’t even hike for 4 hours in hiking boots without being in agony, let alone these slipper flats!
Did you know: You can walk in Laura’s footsteps! The Laura Secord Legacy Trail starts at the Laura Secord Homestead and goes all the way to the Decew House Heritage Park. You can find a detailed, step-by-step guide (no pun intended!) online by Friends of Laura Secord.
Did Laura Secord receive any recognition for her bravery?
Laura wrote to many important political figures to let them know what she did during the War of 1812. She went unhear and unrecognized until 47 years later, when she was 85 years old.
The Prince of Wales heard her story while he was visiting Niagara Falls in 1860, and awarded her £100 for her bravery and contribution to the victory over the American forces.
£100, which is about $170 Canadian, would’ve been equivalent to $3,676 back in 1865 – a tidy sum back then (but at the same time, still doesn’t seem like much)!
Laura passed away at the age of 93 and is buried in the Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls, next to her husband James.
Fun fact: The Secord last name coming from Laura and James is rare. They only had one boy out of their 7 children to carry the family name, and his descendants moved to Guatemala for missionary work.
How did Laura Secord Chocolates get their name?
In 1913, a gentleman named Frank O’Connor opened a small candy shop in Toronto. He wanted to name his company after a heroic Canadian figure.
It’s rumoured that since his wife was involved in the Suffragette movement, he wanted to name the company after a prominent female in Canadian history. There weren’t many at the time, and he chose Laura Secord who was a symbol of courage, devotion, and loyalty.
Did you know: Laura Secord is the first Canadian woman to have a monument erected (which can be found at Queenston Heights. If you take a walk over to Queenston Heights, you will see her monument near Queenston Heights Restaurant which was installed in 1910. She was named a Person of National Historic Significance in 2003. You can also take a self-guided War of 1812 tour if you want to learn more about what happened on these grounds.
How to get to Laura Secord Homestead
Driving to the Laura Secord Homestead is very easy from Niagara Falls or Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you’re already in Niagara Falls, follow the Niagara Parkway towards Niagara-on-the-Lake. Turn right at the roundabout by Queenston and follow the road down the hill. There is a sign on the right hand side for the homestead just a couple streets over once you get to the bottom of the hill.
From Niagara-on-the-Lake, follow the Niagara Parkway towards Niagara Falls and turn left once you see the sign at the base of the hill before going up to Queenston.
Parking is free!
If you are in Niagara Falls without a car, the WEGO bus stops at the Laura Secord Homestead! The 604 line (Niagara-on-the-Lake shuttle) makes a few stops a day. The bus arrives every 60 minutes during peak months from the end of April to the beginning of October, which gives you plenty of time to do the tour and explore the museum and grounds!
Adults are $16 round trip and children are $10/round trip and the shuttle will take you all the way to Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Address: 29 Queenston Street, Queenston
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