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Laura Secord Homestead - Legacy More Than Chocolate 

To generations of kids, the name Laura Secord means one thing - chocolate. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, it means much more. before she had candy named after her, Secord was a Canadian heroine who played a vital role in the War of 1812. A case of mistaken identity, along with a long walk, dealt a crippling blow to American forces.

Visit Laura Secord Homestead 

Born in Massachusetts in 1775, Laura Ingersoll came to Canada in 1795 with her father and siblings. Running a tavern in the Niagara Peninsula, she eventually met and married James Secord, a United Empire Loyalist. They settled in a cozy homestead in Queenston, where they had five children.

The tranquil life was shattered when the War of 1812 erupted. James a military sergent, left to do battle and never returned. Secord found him in Queenston Heights, shot and nearly dead. Upon her return, American soldiers had ransacked her home. Believing she was loyal to the Americans because of her U.S. heritage, they used Secord's home as a base to plan their next attack.

The Americans were planning an assault against Lt. James Fitzgibbon at Beaverdams, a victory that could give them control of the entire Niagara Peninsula. Secord overheard the plan and decided on a suicide  mission - to walk 32 km (20 miles) through enemy terrain to warn Fitzgibbon of the impending attack.

The Americans weren't all she had to worry about. There were also rattlesnakes, wildcats, wolves and hostile natives to avoid. She faced scorching temperatures and uneven terrain. Sometime during the 18-hour journey, her shoes fell apart. She completed the trek with blistering, bloody feet.

The message delivered, Fitzgibbon and his forces were able to surprise the invading Americans, defeating them at Battle of Beaverdams on June 24, 1813.

Secord's role in this pivotal victory wasn't properly recognized until 1860 - nearly 50 years after the war - when she received recognition from the visiting Edward, Prince of Wales.

A 93 year old Secord died in 1868, and was buried in Drummond Hill Cementery in Niagara Falls. But her  legacy was far from over. In 1913, Toronto businessman Frank O'Connor decided to name his new chocolate company after her. In 1969, Laura Secord Inc. bought the Secord homestead, restoring it with authentic furnishings from the early 1800s. On the spot many figured to be the home's original summer kitchen, the company opened an annex building to sell its chocolates and ice cream. Several artifacts found during archeological digs are also on display.

In October 1998, Laura Secord Inc. donated the Laura Secord Homestead to the Niagara Parks Commission to ensure the Homestead's preservation and safekeeping for future generations.

Visit Laura Secord Homestead located at 29 Queenston Street, Village of Queenston, Ontario, Canada.

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