Saturday, June 22, 2013

Laura Secord weekend in Niagara

This is a big weekend, I am sure you are aware, for fans of Laura Secord.  And no, I am not talking about the iconic chocolate shop, athough there are plenty of fans of that including myself.  Incidentally, my mom worked at the Laura Secord shop in downtown Toronto at College and Yonge Streets shortly after getting married to dad in 1949.  She was told she could eat as much as she wanted while at work in the shop, with the owners knowing full well that desire would not last long once you are around it all day long.  But already I digress...

Early this morning hundreds of local history buffs and other interested souls began the 32 kilometre trek from the Laura Secord Homestead in Queenston to the DeCew House in Thorold, more or less retracing the steps of Laura herself 200 years ago.  The Laura Secord Bicentennial Walk is turning into a big deal, and I know a lot of people who are taking part in the walk today, including our Chief Engineer at CKTB RADIO, Joe Gurney, who is totally geeked out this year with a tracking device so you can log on to a website to see where he is at any given moment.  Last time I checked around the noon-hour today, he was over the half-way mark in the walk.  Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and his wife Tweeted from the walk as well, so everyone is either on the walk or taking a keen interest in it.  I was planning to do the walk myself this weekend but life sort of got in the way I am sorry to say.

More information on the walk can be had by logging on to

Tied in with all this, the War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee has a lot of events planned in Thorold this weekend at several locations including the Battle of Beaverdams Park in downtown Thorold, including the Provincial Town Crier Championships Saturday and Sunday.  Our own mighty Town Crier, Mark Molnar is in the thick of it in Thorold this weekend, and we wish him the best of luck as he goes up against the best of the best from around the province.

Everyone is getting into the act to mark the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 it seems, with Niagara Falls MP and Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announcing yesterday the Royal Canadian Mint has issued a special Laura Secord Bicentennial coin and Canada Post a special stamp to mark the Bicentennial as well.  The nice thing about all this is Canadians are actually, genuinely taking an interest in the Bicentennial, and everyone seems excited by the many events taking place.

The balance of this year and next will continue to see any number of Bicentennial events planned, since the War of 1812 concluded in 1814, of course, so we can legitimately observe all the anniversaries through to next year.  You can be sure everyone will be taking advantage of the promotional opportunities presented right here in Niagara.

Doing their part to help celebrate the Bicentennial, Music Niagara in Niagara-on-the-Lake launches their 15th season this summer with an early musical celebration to mark the Laura Secord Bicentennial this evening at St. Mark's Church in the Old Town.  Tonight at 7:30 pm Music Niagara presents a concert version of the entire score of a new work by Mark Richards, commissioned by Music Niagara no less.  Laura Secord:  An Opera will be presented as a fully-staged opera in 2014, but this year it is a somewhat scaled-back concert version.  Last year, incidentally, Music Niagara presented a workshop performance of the first two acts, so the work in progress continues.

The dramatic new creation tells the story of Laura's life and adventures in the early stages of the War of 1812, and tonight's performance of course takes place two-hundred years to the day after Laura made her famous walk - without a cow along for the walk, contrary to legend.  The opera is composed by Mark Richards, currently on the faculty a the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, teaching courses in music theory, music history, the music of Beethoven and even film music.

The performance will be conducted by Joel Ivany, founder and artistic director of Against the Grain Theatre, a Toronto music collective, with Nicole Bellamy as music director.  The cast includes Miriam Khalil as Laura; Jason Lamont as James Secord and Lt. Fitzgibbon; Tessa Laengert as Elizabeth; Peter McGillivray as U.S. Cpt. Chapin; Andrew Love as General Vincent; and Maria Soulis as the elderly Laura.  The Laura Secord Opera Project is supported by Walter M. and Lisa Balfour Bowen.

If you want to go tonight, tickets are available by calling the Music Niagara Box Office, c/o the Shaw Festival, at 905-468-2172 or 1-800-511-7249.  A portion of the ticket price will go towards the restoration of the Charles Secord headstone in the churchyard at St. Mark's Church on Byron Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

For information on the entire Music Niagara concert season this summer, go to  I will also be posting the dates this week on the calendar page of my website, at

Enjoy the weekend!

June 22nd, 2013.

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