Growing up in America, my favourite thing about history class was that the clock had a seconds hand that ticked constantly, so you could actually see time passing. Little did I know, all the REAL history was stuffed up there in Canada.
In June of 1812, the Amurricans declare war on Britain. But, you know, Britain is really far away and Canada is not only a British colony but also just across the street.
So they attempt to invade Canada.
This nice lady, Laura, is living with her husband in Queenston (about half an hour from Niagara Falls) and spends her days taking care of her four little kids. When the war begins, her husband James joins up to Defend Canada and is immediately shot. He begs for Laura. So she makes her way to the battlefield and as she’s, like, ripping up her petticoat for bandages these three chunkhead Amurricans run up and start beating James to death. Because, Patriotism!
But! And! This big shot American higher-up guy walks up and bellows, “HOW DARE YOU. DON’T YOU HAVE MOTHERS?” because I guess running your bayonet through a lot of Canadians is different from singling one out to beat to death and orders the chunkheads to gently and tenderly bring James to safety so that Laura can nurse him back to life.
Which she does, because Laura Does What Needs Doing.
So when James is better they head home where they find their house completely ransacked but their kids are okay and that’s what matters, and they tidy up and the fighting drags on for seven more months. Eventually, James is well enough to sit outside for awhile and while he works on his tan Laura washes cloth diapers and churns butter and chops firewood and here come more American soldiers who round up every man over 18 except useless James and send them south as prisoners of war.
The soldiers move into Laura’s house which is really nice, and besides she makes a mean lemon meringue pie and they like to relax after dinner with some coffee and cigars and discuss their plans and Laura is like, “Anyone need a sugar cube?” and standing against the wall wearing her Invisibility Cloak Of Being A Woman In The Early 1800s and the soldiers are like, “We shall move against Fitzgibbon at Beaver Dams with five hundred men! Yes, Laura, more sugar please,” and Laura is like “You bet,” and does the dishes and dumps out the cigar ashes and washes the cloth diapers and churns the butter and chops the wood and lies sleepless in bed until 4 AM at which point she puts on her little house slippers and creeps down the stairs and starts walking.
And it’s hot. The cicadas are buzzing and the swampy mud coats her legs and the mosquitoes are biting and she walks and walks until her house slippers are cut to ribbons and she keeps walking for eighteen hours.
She starts at 4 AM and she is STILL WALKING at 10 PM. I know.
And she knocks at Lieutenant Fitzgibbon’s door and he answers it and she says, “They’re moving against you at Beaver Dams with five hundred men,” and then she passes out for awhile and Fitzgibbon immediately calls a meeting and the Americans lose at Beaver Dams. They lose. And there’s no official winner of the War of 1812, but we are not living in Northern Maine right now so I think we can say the States definitely lost and today there is a plaque on the Laura Secord Public school which reads:
“In loving and honoured memory of Laura Secord who saved her country from the enemy in 1813.”
and James continues to recover from his wounds and Laura continues to Do What Needs Doing, no matter how scary it is and no matter heavily her Invisibility Cloak weighs.
And that, my friends, is really fucking brave.
Photo Rachel Carter