Women of 1812

Women who played heroic roles during the War of 1812 tend not to be remembered today. The one exception is Laura Secord.

Written by Nelle Oosterom

Posted July 17, 2013

It's not often noted, but women played important roles during the War of 1812. As writer Dianna Graves points out in the August-September 2012 issue of Canada's History magazine, when their men went off to fight, women were left with sole responsibility for farms, homes, and businesses. Some also tended the wounded, single-handedly defended their property against plunderers, rallied First Nations to fight, accompanied their soldier husbands on campaign, and conveyed important intelligence across enemy lines.

You could win a free book!

Sign up for any of our newsletters and be eligible to win one of many book prizes available.

The most well-known of these women was Laura Secord, who, thanks to a candy company, has become a household name. This Historica-Dominion Heritage Minute tells her story.

After her perilous journey to warn of an American attack during the War of 1812, the Kahnawake Mohawks repel the invasion (1813).

Secord has also been immortalized in song by Nova Scotia performer Rosalee Peppard:

Rosalee Peppard from The Picture House on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, Secord's direct descendant, Carolyn McCormick, launched the creation of a memorial trail so that everyone can "walk in Laura's shoes." See the Toronto Star story and video featuring McCormick, an artist who formed the group Friends of Laura Secord in 2010.

Finally, the American side also had its female heroes. In this video, John Horrigan, host of NewTV's The Folklorist, tells the little-known story of how two young women cleverly stopped a British invasion off Massachusetts:

The Folklorist: An American Army of Two
Herstories matter

If you believe that stories of women's history should be more widely known, help us do more.


Your donation of $10, $25, or whatever amount you like, will allow Canada’s History to share women’s stories with readers of all ages, ensuring the widest possible audience can access these stories for free.


Any amount helps, or better yet, start a monthly donation today. Your support makes all the difference. Thank you!

Related to Women