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Laura Secord Homestead | Queenston Heights in Niagara

Laura Secord Homestead Address – 29 Queenston Street, Queenston Heights, Ontario, Canada – MAP

This was the humble home of a famous Canadian heroine.  Her name is skewered in history because today, when we hear Laura Secord, we think only of chocolate. 

But how many know the real history?  Forced into the violence because of the town she lived in.  Leading to a major act of bravery, and one of the reasons why we’re still Canada today.

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The Walk | Honour & Death | Ghosts

by Ghost Guide Daniel

Laura Secord Homestead History

Facing the Battle of Queenston Heights

In October of 1812 the Americans came to Queenston Heights.  Word went out to Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Where the famed General, Isaac Brock, was stationed. 

The men were assembled and led down the scenic road along the Niagara River.  Arriving with a disadvantage at the bottom of the Queenston Heights hill. 

The Americans were winning.  Especially after during a tragic assault, as Isaac Brock ran up the hill surrounded by his men.  And is shot down by an American sniper. 

Isaac Brock riding into Queenston Heights
General Isaac Brock looking grand!

Even though the British lost their General, they still won the battle.  Mostly thanks to an assist from the Natives, who held the Americans until reinforcements arrived and took back the hill.

Partly led by an interesting historical character named John Norton.

Laura’s husband, James Secord, a militia man, fought in the battle.  He helped carry Brock’s body from the violence.

The Secord’s remained in Queenston throughout the War of 1812.  Even after her husband was injured.  Remaining during the American occupation.  Leading to the situation which provoked her fateful journey starting from the front door of the Homestead.

Why’d Laura Secord Walk?

She became part of the violence in June of 1813.  Starting with some American’s showing up at her house in Queenston. 

1813, Niagara fell to the Americans.  Leading to the capture of the former capital, now called Niagara-on-the-Lake.  This is after the occupation but before the burning.  Taking the region and starting a campaign to finish the British, making Ontario a new US State.

One night, a few American soldiers showed up demanding food and accommodation. 

While in Laura’s home, sitting at the dining table, they openly talked about plans.  Not knowing Laura was listening as she moved around, serving food, and cleaning up. 

The discussion… a planned surprise attack on the British, taking over a place called Beaver Dams (part of Thorold). 

With her husband James laid up and badly injured.  Laura Secord was the only hope for the small British regiment stationed at the Decou House near Beaver Dams.

Right after the Americans left, did set out on the famous trek.  20 kms (just over 12 miles) over rough terrain and in dense humidity.  Eventually finding the camp of some allied First Nations warriors.  She begged to see the commander.

Laura Secord warning Fitzgibbon at Beaver Dams

Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon received the warning.  Bringing in 400 Natives to support only 42 British soldiers.  And they readied to battle 500 Americans. 

Because of Laura Secord’s warning they held the post.  Defeating the Americans after so many losses in a much needed victory. 

Hope stacked up.  Giving the British momentum only weeks after another astonishing victory in Stoney Creek. The War had turned.  The Americans were on the run.

Laura After the War

Laura lived a long life after the War of 1812.  However, received no recognition for her bravery. 

Over the years the Secord family financially struggled.  Living amongst the ruins of Queenston Heights.  Her husband James had recovered.  Eventually getting work as a Customs Agent in the Port in Chippawa.  This came with a house.

Laura and James moved, leaving their son Charles in charge of the Queenston Homestead.  James worked for Customs until his death in 1841.

This left Laura financially strapped.  Soon, thanks to the help of her children, she moved into a small brick cottage.

But where’s the Honour?

Sad to think a Canadian heroine had to struggle in the country she helped save.  But it happened. 

Took 47 years for England to take notice.  In 1860, they acknowledged her during a royal visit to the colony.  The then Prince of Wales (Queen Victoria’s son Albert Edward and the future King Edward VII) honoured Laura Secord.  

Promising her a reward upon his return to England.  Which he did send … £100!  You read that right.  The only reward she’d receive. 

Fun note… after some creative calculation – that’d be about $25,000 in today’s Canadian dollars.

Laura Secord’s grave in Niagara Falls’ Drummond Hill Cemetery

Laura Secord died 8 years later in 1868 at the incredible age of 93.  And today is buried with her husband, James, in Niagara Falls’ Drummond Hill Cemetery.

The Irony of Drummond Hill

I must call out a bit of irony… Laura being buried in Drummond Hill.  

Imagine this…

  1. You’re thrust into the War of 1812 because of the town you live in.
  2. Husband is almost killed in battle at the same time the American’s take over your region.
  3. Forced to take an active role, endangering yourself to help the British.
  4. Then after the war, ignore for years as you struggle to make ends meet.

And then, after your death, being buried on a former battlefield in one of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812.

Now, I know it was James who wished to be buried at Drummond Hill alongside many other soldiers.  She was only following him.  But, come on! 

Chocolate Saved Her House

The Laura Secord Chocolate Company started in 1913.  A man named Frank O’Connor opened a small shop on Yonge Street in Toronto. 

Why did he choose the name Laura Secord for the store?  No idea!  

But it took off.  Expanding all over Ontario and Quebec.  Today there are over 100 shops in Canada. 

Modern Laura Secord Chocolate Shop

As a fitting bit of charity, they purchased the Queenston Homestead in 1971.  Eventually restored it to an 1812 style while bringing back original furniture and artifacts.

Then in 1998, they gifted the house to Niagara Parks.  They opened it as a museum which still runs today.

Ghosts of the Laura Secord Homestead

After over 200 years of history, you’d expect the house to be haunted. 

Historical tour guides don’t shy away from experiences.  Reporting many strange sounds inside the house over the years. 

Such as voices.  Like whispering and echoing sounds drifting down the stairs from an empty second floor.  Seemly from the main bedroom. 

James’s Pain

After the American’s took Niagara, Laura’s husband James was mercifully allowed to stay and heal inside the captured house.  A kindness given under the old rules of warring soldiers.

In the main bedroom, Laura constantly moved in and out, tending to her husband. However, he was denied medical assistance.

Main Bedroom in Laura Secord Homestead

Just imagine the pain!  Unbearable leading to constant bursts of emotion.  This leaves restless residual energy. 

Among the voices in the house, a man cries out in pain from the main bedroom.  This is said to be James.

The Americans are back!

One day a couple was touring the house.  Getting up to the second floor, they both heard rustling from the kitchen downstairs. 

Going to the stairs, the boyfriend leaned over to listen.  A loud sound echoed up.  Like crashing, as if objects and glass were thrown about, knocking against the floor and walls.    

The couple freaked, staying quiet upstairs long after the noises had stopped.

Soon, the boyfriend crept down the stairs.  Carefully leaning over, expecting to see the kitchen in ruins.  Everything was fine.  Just a clean, organized historic room inside a completely empty house.

The couple didn’t know … this house was ransacked in history.  Logically the experience makes sense. 

After the occupation, American soldiers went through the house before eating and staying the night.  Looking for anything which may be used as a weapon.

What about Laura?

She’s experienced as well.  Another bit of residual energy.  It’s appropriate when you consider the stress surrounding their time in Queenston.

Again, it’s upstairs, where visitors and staff have seen a woman inside the main bedroom.  She’s standing beside the bed, looking down, as if attending to her injured husband. 

Ghost Guide Daniel is the head tour guide of the Ghost Walks.  Currently leading in Hamilton and Niagara-on-the-Lake, and host of the Ghost Guide Daniel Podcast.

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