Dr. Secord monument to remain following citizen request to remove it

Section: 
News

 

By Barb McKay

 

The Municipality of Kincardine has denied a request to remove a monument dedicated to Dr. Solomon Secord.

 

The monument was erected in front of the Kincardine library on Queen Street by friends of Secord following his death in 1910. Secord, grandnephew of Canadian heroine Laura Secord, began practicing medicine in Kincardine in the late 1850s. According to records compiled by local historian Graham Mahood, shortly after setting up practice in Kincardine, Secord took ill and went to stay with family in Georgia.

 

As an abolitionist he spoke out against slavery, which very nearly resulted in him being hung. When the Civil War broke out, being trapped in the south Secord joined the Confederate Army as a surgeon and treated soldiers from both the north and south. In 1863, he was captured during the Battle of Gettysburg. He managed to escape weeks later and rejoined the Confederate Army, again as a surgeon. He left the army with the rank of Surgeon-General and returned to Kincardine to take up his practice, doing so until his death in 1910.

 

It is not Secord or his history as an esteemed surgeon that led one Kincardine resident to approach Kincardine council with request to remove his monument, but rather a reference to his participation in the American Civil War.

 

Jeroen Thompson grew up in the United States and made Kincardine his home six years ago after moving to Canada to study.

 

“I immediately realized Canada is a great country, and I’m proud to now be a Canadian citizen,” he said.

 

Thompson said the first time he read the inscription on the Secord monument he was stunned. The inscription reads, “To Solomon Secord, our family physician for 50 years. This memorial was erected by his loving friends. Served as surgeon with southern army during American Civil War. All that he lived, he loved, and without regard for fee or reward, he did his work for love of his work, and love of his fellows.”

 

“Ask yourself,” Thompson said. “What was it his friends thought was the most important thing to memorialize about Dr. Secord’s life? The one fact about his life they thought was important enough to put on the monument was, ‘he served as a surgeon with the Southern Army.’”

 

“Regardless of his views, Dr. Secord did serve the Confederacy, and his friends were proud of it. Well, I’m not proud of his service to the Confederacy, and I trust that no one else in this room is either. He supported a war to keep black men, women and children in slavery. He supported a racist and reprehensible cause. And I don’t think this monument, this message, reflects Canada today, or reflects Kincardine today.”

 

Council, however, had a differing view.

 

“On this we are going to have to disagree,” said Councillor Laura Haight. “It’s important to remember that they didn’t say he served the Confederate Army, they said he served as a doctor with the Southern Army. “Doctors are not soldiers, they are doctors, and they treat the wounded in front of them regardless of their affiliation. If you look at Dr. Secord, this was just a small part of his life and I think the inscription was carefully crafted.”

 

Mayor Anne Eadie said her father served in the medical core during the Second World War and treated German soldiers who had been captured.

 

“I’m proud to be in the Municipality of Kincardine,” she added. “We are a multicultural community and we are a very tolerant community.”

 

Council voted unanimously to leave Secord’s monument where it is, citing that the monument was erected to as recognition for his outstanding contributions to the community.