Isaac Brock’s Monument, and why he has it.

Major-General Sir Isaac Brock was a British military commander who was appointed as president of the executive council of Upper Canada. He probably was “the very model of a modern Major-General” in 1812 when war broke out between the British and the Americans, and Canada turned into a very conveniently placed battleground. 

Brock had achieved an excellent outcome at Detroit, which involved getting the Americans under the command of Major-General Hull to surrender and hand over a bunch of really cool stuff, such as their fort, their soldiers, their weapons and ammunition, their supplies, and the territory of Michigan. Not a bad day’s work, when you stop to think about it. 

In the Battle of Queenston Heights, the prize was control of the highly strategic Niagara River. If the Americans could win that, they would have a stranglehold on the Canadian supply lines. 

The Americans attacked while Brock was asleep in bed at Fort George, but as soon as he was woken with the news, he bolted right over to Queenston Heights and led his forces with great bravery and determination. 

Brock was shot in the chest and died without saying any of the brave words that have since been attributed to him. I suppose it’s hard to come up with something as poetic as “Push on, brave York volunteers” when you’re busy dying almost instantly from a great ripping wound in your chest. 

He may have lost that particular battle, but thankfully the British and Canada won the war. 

Brock was buried at Fort George, but in 1824 his remains were moved to a site at the top of Queenston Heights where stands a monument to his bravery, achievements and general derring-do. 

   

 
 
At the base of this grand monument is a First Nations monument to the native people who fought in the battle. Tecumseh was a very strong ally of Isaac Brock and many people of the Original Nations fought alongside the British as loyal Canadians. Many of these Warriors were buried on this same hill at Queenston Heights.

  

It’s not as grand as Brock’s memorial, but it is every bit as moving. 

Laura Secord.

Laura Secord was an incredibly gutsy woman. 

When she overheard plans by the Americans to attack the British soldiers defending Canada in the War of 1812, she walked almost 20 miles from her home in Queenston to warn them. She was determined to get the message to the British soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant FitzGibbon, at Beaver Dams, where the Americans planned to attack. 

This was no walk in the park. It was over varied terrain in 19th century ladies’ shoes and clothing which, it may safely be assumed, were not designed  for much other than drinking tea in parlours and visiting a shop or two on the odd occasion. She didn’t go by the main road, because she didn’t want to be stopped by more American soldiers.  Even though she was afraid when she came upon a camp of Iroquois, she asked for directions and was pleased to find that they supported the British. She was even more pleased that a guide accompanied her to Decew House, where FitzGibbon and his men were in a meeting.

The message borne by Laura Secord made a huge difference in the outcome of the Battle of Beaver Dams. The British ambushed and defeated the Americans, and gladly took all the credit in their official reports. Laura Secord didn’t even get a mention. 

Nice. 

It is rather good, though, that her homestead has been preserved, and that there is a lovely monument to Laura Secord and her bravery in Queenston Heights Park. 

I visited her homestead today, and was thrilled to find her monument when I went to see the monument to Isaac Brock, a key figure in the War of 1812 and the Battle of Queenston Heights.

   
   
There is also a wonderful chain of chocolate stores named in her honour. The founder of Laura Secord Chocolates wanted her memory to be preserved and the story of her bravery to be told. 

It’s a big ask, but I am willing to do my part in perpetuating the memory of this Canadian heroine. 

   
 
I’m calling it a patriotic duty.