Laura Secord; or, The Battle of Beaver Dams by Lieut.-Col. J. R. Wilkinson

wilkinson laura

wilkinson laura
Laura Secord warns British commander James FitzGibbon of an impending American attack at Beaver Dams. by Lorne Kidd Smith, 1920. Library and Archives Canada reproduction reference number C-011053

Fought June 24th, 1813. British 47 Regulars and 200 Indians. Americans, 570 with 50 cavalry and 3 guns

She knew, and her heart beat faster,
‡‡The foe would march that day !
And resolved, though only a woman,
‡‡To silently steal away
And warn the outpost at Beaver Dams ;
‡‡Alone, and on foot, to go
Through the dim and awesome forest,
‡‡To evade the vigilant foe.

And no one thought of a woman,
‡‡And she gained a path she knew
In the lonesome, stately forest,
‡‡And over the dark way flew.
On and on with a beating heart,
‡‡And never a pause for rest ;
Twenty miles of dim and distance,
‡‡And the sun low down the west.

Startled sometimes to terror
‡‡By the blood-curdling cry
Of wolves from the faint far distance,
‡‡And sometimes nearer by ;
And hollow sounds and weird whispers
‡‡That rose from the forest deep ;
And ghostly and phantom voices
‡‡That caused her nerves to creep.

But she pauses not, nor falters,
‡‡But presses along the way ;
Noiselessly through the dread distance,
‡‡Through the shadows weird and gray.
In time must the warning be given,
‡‡She must not, must not fail ;
Though rough is the path and toilsome,
‡‡Her courage must prevail.

“To arms ! to arms, FitzGibbon !”
‡‡Came a woman’s thrilling cry ;
“Lose not a precious moment —
‡‡The foe ! the foe is nigh !”
And a woman pale and weary
‡‡Burst on the startled sight
Out from the dark, awesome forest,
‡‡Out of the shadowy night.

“They come ! they come six hundred strong,
‡‡Stealing upon you here !
But I, a weak woman, tell you,
‡‡Prepare and have no fear.”
The handful of British heroes
‡‡Resolved the outpost to save,
With the aid of two hundred Indians,
‡‡Allies cunning and brave.

Still as death the line is waiting
‡‡The onset of the foe ;
And the summer winds make whisper
‡‡In the foliage soft and low.
“Ready !” and each heart beats faster ;
‡‡“Fire low, and without fear.”
And they fired a crashing volley,
‡‡And gave a defiant cheer.

Staggered by the deadly missiles,
‡‡That like a mighty blow
Fell swift on the line advancing,
‡‡Fell on the astonished foe.
And for two long, desperate hours
‡‡The furious fight raged there,
Till the foemen, foiled and beaten,
‡‡Surrendered in despair.

Well done, valiant FitzGibbon !
‡‡Thy name shall live in story ;
Thy daring feat of arms that day
‡‡Is wreathed with fadeless glory.
One other name my song would praise,
‡‡A patriot soul so brave,
That dared the forest’s lonely wilds
‡‡FitzGibbon’s post to save.

Noble woman ! heroic soul !
‡‡We would honor thee to-day ;
Thou canst not, shall not be forgot.
‡‡More lustrous is the ray
Time relects upon thy deed.
‡‡Thy talismanic name —
Canadians, sound it through the land,
‡‡Perpetuate her fadeless fame !

Source: Lieut.-Col. J. R. Wilkinson. Canadian Battlefields and Other Poems. 2nd ed. Toronto, William Briggs, 1901

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wilkinson laura

Glen Albert Near DeCew Falls by A Traveller

 

Glen Albert
Decew Falls by Miller’s Photographic Saloon – Possibly Chauncey C Miller, active in St. Catharines c. 1865-1868

Glen Albert ! How lovely thy beautiful scene —
As lovely to me as a nymph of sixteen,
All blushing with health and unconscious of guile,
‘Tis a foretaste of Eden to bask in thy smile ;
To list in suspense to the sound of thy falls —
Hearing nature’s sweet music in nature’s own halls,
While the hue-changing leaves by the zephyr caressed,
Murmur softly and sweetly a sigh of love bless’d.
Though the sun’s glowing rays gild the woods on thy heights,
In thy depths far below there’s a gloom that delights,
Where the wandering traveller, wearied with care,
Can pause in thy Glen and find solitude there —
There alone in thy bosom, from tumult apart,
He can have a fit place to commune with his heart.
Proud Niagara calls him with voice loud and bold,
And lures to her falls, as the siren of old.
But thy sparkling cascades, gushing smiles mixed with tears,
Cause so modern Ulysses to stop up his ears.
Here retired from the haunts of fashion and crime,
Thou art seen in thy loveliness, truly sublime;
E’en in history’s page thou did’st shine long ago
When our heroes stood by thee to ward off their foe,
And a ‘Merritt’ held post after Beaver Dam fight,
Thou did’st bravely assist with a Spartan girl’s might
Let the foreigner share in Niagara’s roar,
That with menacing fury growls “Dieu et mon Droit,”
Yet Glen Albert ! the bird that loves its own nest
For a love — all its own — sure will love thee the best.

Source: Courtesy Dennis Gannon.

Poem clipped from an unknown and undated newspaper,  pasted to the back of the photograph above.

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Fondly Remembered Old Queenston by Lini Grol

Grol Queenston
Laura Secord Scissorcut by Lini Grol

Grol Queenston
A small town
huddling far below
the high BROCK monument,
in honor of the hero
of that historic war
of eighteen twelve.

Far below,
in old Queenston
one little house
speaks of the simple life
of one who also had shared
the atrocity and misery
of that war and had shown
extreme bravery.

LAURA SECORD’s humble old house
facing the blue Niagara,
only whispers of her valour,
but right next door
her fame sells galore
delicious ice cream and sumptuous candy
in the little ice cream parlour.

No, it was not General BROCK
who gave Queenston its fame.
Rather a clever candy maker
knowing the importance of
a woman’s name in the candy trade
who made Queenston famous
with his ice-cream and chocolate
in LAURA SECORD’s name.

Source: Grol, Lini, ed. by Kevin McCabe and Lynne Prunskus. Lake to Lake: Lini Grol’s Niagara.  St. Catharines: Blarney Stone Books, c2000.

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A Cow and Ice Cream by Betty J. Beam

(a children’s poem) Laura Secord

laura secord
Photo courtesy of the Petrie Collection, Niagara Falls Public Library

Laura Secord, by the record
Of the conflict of eighteen-twelve,
Walked twenty miles through wood and stream,
Queenston – Beaverdams, right on beam!
Surprise Attack! was her one theme.
A forewarned, forearmed British team
Thwarted the American scheme!

Some people vow she drove a cow,
Others are quick to deny it.
I wonder did she ever dream
That she’d be held in high esteem —
A heroine renowned, I deem,
For confections that are supreme,
Rich chocolates and super ice cream!

Source: The Author, 2001
N.B. Laura Secord is also the name of a chain of stores selling ice cream and chocolate products.

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Visit of the Prince of Wales to Laura Secord by Sarah Anne Curzon

(Chippawa, 1860 Laura Secord poem poetry

laura secord poem poetry
Edward, Prince of Wales & party photographed at Niagara Falls by Platt Babbitt, 1860.

Now wherefore trembles still the string
By lyric fingers crossed,
To Laura Secords praise and fame,
When forty years are lost?

Nay, five and forty, one by one,
Have Borne her from the day
When, fired with patriotic zeal,
She trod her lonely way.

Her hair is white, her step is slow,
Why kindles then her eye,
And rings her voice with music sweet
Of many a year gone by?

O know ye not proud Canada,
With joyful heart, enfolds
In fond embrace the royal boy
Whose line her fealty holds?

For him she spreads her choicest cheer,
And tells her happiest tale,
And leads him to her loveliest haunts,
That naught to please may fail.

And great art thou, O Chippawa,
Though small in neighbours eyes,
When out Niagaras haze thou seest
A cavalcade arise;

And in its midst the royal boy
Who, smiling, comes to see
An ancient dame whose ancient fame
Shines in our history.

He takes the thin and faded hand,
He seats him at her side,
Of all that gay and noble band
That moment well the pride.

To him the aged Secord tells,
With many a fervid glow,
How, by her means, Fitzgibbon struck
His great historic blow.

Nor deem it ye, as many do,
A weak and idle thing
That at that moment Laura loved
The praises of a king;

And dwelt on his approving smile,
And kissed his royal hand,
Who represented, and should wield,
The sceptre of our land;

For where should greatness fire her torch
If not at greatness shrine?
And whence should approbation come
Did not the gods incline?

Source: McCabe, Kevin, ed. The Poetry of Old Niagara. St. Catharines, Ont. : Blarney Stone Books, 1999.

Originally published in T.H. Rand, ed. A Treasury of Canadian Verse. 1900.

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Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library’s Historic Niagara Digital Collections