By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Many Canadians associate Laura Secord with delicious chocolates. Few realize how strategic her life really was. So often Canada ignores its heroes and heroines. The concept of a hero comes from our Greek heritage, a key foundation of western and Canadian civilization. The Greek hero, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, is a person of superhuman qualities favoured by the gods; an illustrious warrior; one who has fought for his/her country. By those standards, Laura Secord was an unlikely hero. She was gentle, a little shy, and soft-spoken. Yet without her courage, Canada would likely not exist today.
During the War of 1812, the beloved General Isaac Brock lost his life and Toronto (York) was burnt to the ground. Most of the strategic Niagara Peninsula had been captured and was in enemy hands. Only one small section remained under Canadian control: Beaver Dam where Lieutenant James FitzGibbons was bravely hanging on.
Laura Secord overheard Cyrenius Chapin describe plans to have a surprise attack upon Beaver Harbour. Laura’s husband James was badly injured and unable to pass on the vital message. So Laura decided to go herself. James tried to stop her, but Laura confidentially said: ““You forget, James, that God will take care of me.”
Laura’s only chance of avoiding the military patrols was to go through the Great Black Swamp where she faced the three-fold dangers of rattlesnakes, wild cats, and quicksand. For nearly twenty miles, she fought her way through overwhelming obstacles. When she finally reached Beaver Dam, Lieutenant FitzGibbons listened carefully to her warning.
With only fifty soldiers and two hundred First Nation warriors, FitzGibbons was able to convince five hundred enemy soldiers to surrender. Laura Secord’s bravery gave Canada time to rearm, and defend its borders.
Most books about Laura Secord only talk about how brave she was. Few, if any, talk about the source of her courage. Laura attributed her unusual courage to her deep faith in God. Connie Brummel Crook, whom I met at the Write! Canada Conference, is one of the few authors who shows how faith made a big difference in Laura’s life. Again and again in Laura’s letters, she used the expression ‘If God so decrees’. Courage for Laura came from a deep surrender to God’s will and purposes in her life.
My prayer for those reading this article is that we too may discover the same courage and faith shown by Laura Secord.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
BSW, MDiv, DMin
– previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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