Friday, October 18, 2002

Laura Secord and the Canadian need for heroes: Does the truth matter?

For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Laura Secord, she is famous for having 'saved Canada' from the US during the War of 1812 (which, by the way, we won--and we also burnt the white House. I'm just saying). She purportedly travelled a great many miles after overhearing an American plot to attack a Canadian fort in order to inform the Canadian (really British) military of what was coming. Theoretically--or at least, as history tells it--the Canadians (err, British North Americans, Canadiens and Native allies) were able to hold off the Americans as a result.

Or were they? Mrs. Secord's story has not exactly stood the test of time. In the early twentieth century, scholars debunked her story, claiming that she had not reached the Canadians until after the fort was attacked, thereby making her claims of 'saving' Canada somewhat ridiculous. This theory, in turn, has been rejected by modern scholars, who now postulate that Laura in fact arrived two days prior to the attack, although it is uncertain exactly how much credence the Canadian militia gave her story.

So Canadians have a spurious heroine in Laura Secord, it seems...although I think that she is still important to our sense of national identity. Canadians have so few heroes; or at least very few in the same vein as other countries do. It is important for us to hold onto what we have. In a sense, Laura Secord is much like hte monarchy: not absolute essential to our country, but harmless and something that people actually believe in and care about. Apathy is all too prevalent in this country. And besides, she makes some mighty fine chocolate.

In other news, Jeffery Eugenides has a new book.

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