Decou House ~ St. Catharines, Ontario
Posted by: DyverDown
N 43° 06.466 W 079° 15.014
17T E 642372 N 4774268
Quick Description: Located along thr North side of Decew Road, just west of Merrisville Highway in St Catharines, Ontario. There is a small parking lot 50m away from the remains of the building, which is very visible from the roadway itself.
Location: Ontario, Canada
Date Posted: 1/25/2009 4:02:31 PM
Waymark Code: WM5NCP
Decou house where Laura Secord walked to in order to warm of the American Invasion plans.
The plaque reads:
DeCou served as a captain of the militia in the War of 1812. He was taken prisoner during the capture of Niagara and Fort George on May 27, 1813. During the same year; the tide of battle turned against the British who were forced to retreat to Burlington Heights, Hamilton, leaving only a small force at the John DeCou stone house under Lieutenant James Firzgibbon.
On June 23 that year, in the Village of Queenston, Laura Secord, wife of James Secord, heard American soldiers, billeted in her home, discussing plans to overpower Fitzgibbon's party. She took counsel with her husband, who was ill at the time, and they decided that she should make the perilous 32 km (20 mile) journey on foot to warn Fitzgibbon.
Unaware that she was embarking on such a famous trek, she stole quietly away from the house, reaching St. David's by sunrise on the following morning where she was joined by a niece, Elizabeth Secord. To avoid American patrols, the two women followed an old Indian trail from St. David's to Shipman's Corners (now the intersection of St. Paul and Ontario Streets in St. Catharines).
From this point the Canadian heroine hurried on alone to the DeCou House. Acting on her warning, Fitzgibbon and his men, with their Indian allies, captured the entire American force, with its Commanding Officer; Lieut. Col. Charles C. Boerstler, by bold strategy. That action, now known as "The Fight in the Beech Woods," was an important turning point in the war. Thus did Laura Secord and the stone house of John DeCou take their places in the bright pages of history.
DeCou escaped in 1814, participating in the Battle of Lundy's Lane. After the war, he restored and developed this property, and the area became known as the Hamlet of Decew Town (now DeCew Falls). He advocated and became a director of the First Welland Canal. When the route was changed leaving the mills without water power, he became an opponent of the scheme. He sold his house in 1834. He died in 1855 at DeCewsville in Haldimand County, the second community of which he was the founder.
The DeCew stone house was occupied by David Griffiths and his descendants until 1942 when it, with the surrounding property, was acquired by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario for the extension of the DeCew Falls generating station.
In 1950, while unoccupied, it was destroyed by fire. In view of its intimate association with Canadian history, steps were taken to preserve the remains of the house.
A flagstone floor was built and the existing Queenston limestone walls, 66 cm (26 in) thick, were left intact to the height of the ground floor window sills. Grounds around the house were landscaped and new stone piers were erected at the two driveway entrances.
A large bronze plaque, recording the interesting history of the old house, was set into a cairn-like structure, forming part of the back wall of the venerable structure.
On October 13,1953, the property was officially declared an historic site by the Hon. Leslie M. Frost, Prime Minister of Ontario. Participating in the ceremony along with Premier Frost was former Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario Chairman Robert H. Saunders who said the preservation of the DeCou House by the Commission was in keeping with its policy of restoring and maintaining historic landmarks situated on the properties, as a tribute to the pioneers who laid the foundations of the nation.
Date Erected/Dedicated: c.1809
Who put it there? Private/Government?: JOHN DECOU
St Catharines, Niagara Canada
Website (related) if available: [Web Link]
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Hours or Restrictions if Appropiate: Not listed
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