1812 Bicentennial: Bridge helps complete Laura Secord’s historic route

Posted June 3, 2013  by What’s On Thorold

Saturday at around noon, traffic was stopped for a few minutes at the bottom of Decew Road as a block-long procession of mostly children worked their way along the road to the trail that would lead them to their ultimate destination.

Those children were, for the most part, members of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company and where they were headed was the newly built and soon-to-be-opened Laura Secord Bridge across the Twelve Mile Creek in the area of Jackson Flats.

 This metal suspension bridge with a wooden deck was the result of a great deal of work and lobbying by the Friends of Laura Secord. Their goal was to have the structure completed in time for the Laura Secord Walk, which takes place on June 22, 2013. This epic march will start at the Secord Homestead in Queenston and wending its way, crossing this bridge, and eventually ending up at Laura’s destination, the house of John DeCew, at the DeCew House Heritage Park in Thorold. There Thorold will be holding the first two days of their three-day Battle of Beaverdams Commemoration.

The bridge is located on the Twelve Mile Creek, slightly east of the point where the research of Thorold historian Alun Hughes placed Laura Secord’s crossing on her way to warn the British of an impending American attack. Leading to and from the bridge and is the trail that approximates the route Laura took, as nearly as historians have been able to place it.

Along this route now numerous children and some adults made their way to the new structure for the ribbon cutting. Stopping on the north side of the creek, they paused to warm up and then they proceeded across to the meadow on the opposite side.

With a brief introduction from the emcee, Friends of Laura Secord’s Ross MacDonald, the Canadian Children’s Opera Company gave meaning to the song line, “The hills are alive with the sounds of music”. They sang a medley of tunes from the opera Laura’s Cow, which they were performing that evening at Laura Secord Secondary School. This opera played in Toronto at the Harbourfront to rave reviews.

There followed a minimum of speeches, with Friends President Caroline McCormick, herself a direct descendant of Laura Secord and other members thanking those who made the bridge possible. These included the Opera Company, St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullen and City Councillor Peter Secord (himself a distant descendant of Laura) for lobbying on the Friends’ behalf, Tom Rankin of Rankin Construction for assisting in the final design and building the bridge, a mysterious anonymous donor who paid for the bridge materials and all the other people who worked on this project.

There were also a few words from Mr. Tim Johnson, Associate Director of Museum Programmes at the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, a direct descendant of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant and John Brant, who fought at the Battle of Beaverdams. In part, he noted that Native agreements and treaties were often expressed as a chain from one to the other, and said that he felt this bridge reminded him of such a chain of covenant.

The final step was the cutting of the ribbon, and then the throng marched back across the bridge and back out to the road, thence back to their starting point, where all were treated to a BBQ.

And, despite the weatherman’s prognostications, it never once came even close to raining.

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