Each year in June, the Friends of Laura Secord host an event recreating Laura Secord’s heroic journey of June 22, 1813.
And each year, the organization behind the event adds something new.
Thousands of walkers have participated since the first walk recognized the bicentennial of the Canadian hero’s “risky trek,” says organizer Caroline McCormick.
When she laid the groundwork for that first event, McCormic recreating Secord’s route as well as possible, given the changes that have occurred since that historic walk more than 200 years ago.
Given the peace that has ensued since that time, says McCormick, the annual walk “is a positive, life-affirming event — an enjoyable challenge that promotes awareness, gratitude, and reflection.”
McCormick, a direct descendant of the hero, describes Secord as “an immigrant, a victim of war, a veteran, and the wife of a grievously wounded soldier. She was a lone woman at risk in a war-ravaged landscape on her famous walk during the War of 1812. It was an act of raw courage — but it was courage borne of absolute desperation, risking her life, the lives of her children, and the future and livelihoods of her extended family.”
Secord was not the first in her family to endure this hardship, she says in a press release about the walk.
“Her mother-in-law and husband were also victims of war, forced to flee and seek refuge from persecution where they experienced the threat of starvation, disease and exposure in their perilous 430-kilometre journey from Pennsylvania to Fort Niagara,” says McCormick.
“More than 200 years and thousands of kilometres separate the Secord saga from today’s victims,” she continues, “but sadly, the centuries have not removed the dangers, desperation, and threats globally faced by millions of women and children displaced and devastated by war.”
This year, the Friends of Laura Secord plan to make Laura’s walk even more meaningful by “harnessing the parallels and power of her remarkable story to raise funds and build awareness of the children and women who experience and live with conflict every day,” she says.
This year’s walk will support War Child Canada in their efforts to help children in war-affected areas by getting them back into school, giving their parents the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and providing safe spaces for the children to play and learn, she says.
“The story of Laura Secord’s walk is inspirational and I recognize her courage in the women and girls War Child serves in war zones across the world,” says War Child Founder Samantha Nutt.
“The partnership between the Laura Secord Walk and War Child makes so much sense, and we are delighted to be a part of this fabulous event.”
The walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Laura Secord Homestead in Queenston. People can walk a portion of the trail or the entire 32 kilometres. Shuttle buses will be available for those who don’t plan to walk the entire route.
Prior registration is required for all participants. Donations and sponsorships are encouraged and tax receipts will be issued.
The walk will take place along the Laura Secord Legacy Trail, established by the Friends of Laura Secord in 2013.
The trail was formally connected to the Trans Canada Trail in 2013, which is rebranding as The Great Trail, says McCormick.
Valerie Pringle, chair of the TCT Foundation Board, and also honourary chair of the Friends of Laura Secord, will symbolically nail up the first co-branded sign along the Legacy Trail on June 22.
The Laura Secord Legacy Trail terminates at the DeCew House in Thorold.
This site is also the location of the First Nations Peace Monument, created by the Friends of Laura Secord in 2017 in honour and acknowledgement of First Nations history and heritage.
Monument interpretation will be provided by Tim Johnson from 3 to 5 p.m. the day of the walk.
On June 23, Orchestra Breva’s Eroica – A Tribute to Laura Ingersoll Secord, will be performed as one of the Niagara Parks Commission’s Summer Concert Series.
“How wonderful that Laura Secord continues to inspire,” says McCormick, who is helping to promote the concert through the Friends of Laura Secord.
Melanie Paul Tanovich, the director and conductor of the orchestra, is also an incredible singer, she says.
“Jim Hill (manager of heritage for the NPC) will be leading a mini 0.32-km tour from the Laura Secord Homestead up to the concert,” says McCormick.
It starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 23 in the Queenston Heights bandshell — admission is free, bring folding chairs or blankets.
For all details on the walk or to donate, visit www.friendsoflaurasecord.com.