Wilno is the first and oldest Polish settlement in Canada. The original settlers in this area circa 1858 were mainly of Kashubian origin from Kaszebe - the then Prussian area of Poland. One of the reasons they chose this area to settle was because of the landscape which reminded them of their original homes.
At one time, John Rudolphus Booth's Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway ran through the town mainly serving the lumber industry. The former train route has now been redeveloped into a recreational path. The former train station has likewise been converted into an early settler building and museum that presents the early history of the town. The museum and open air wodden skansen contain the history of the first Kashubian people as well as their immigration to Canada, freedom and eventually, after many hardships, their settlement journey to the Wilno area.
Wilno's namesake was the city of Wilno, then in a Russian-occupied area of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, (now Vilnius, capital of Lithuania), the birthplace of Reverend Ludwik Dembski, who was a prominent community spiritual leader and town founder, who would not have wanted the town named after himself. Therefore, the townsfolk, grateful for his contributions to their town, may have suggested the name of Wilno.
Other noted Kashubes include the Kashubian-Canadian priest and historian, Rev Aloysius Rekowski (1921-2006) who was born and raised in Wilno and, Martin Shulist, who talks of the traditions behind The Holy Crosses of Wilno and their significance to the settlers of this area. Every August in Wilno, Canada's Kashubian community celebrates their heritage.
Annual Chicken Supper on the Labour Day Weekend
This supper has been an annual event for over 65 years. Approximately 2500 people are served each Labour Day Weekend. The food is authentic Kaszebe–Polish fare that is historically accurate, original settler cuisine, with a strong remembrance of a long-ago home.
- Makowski, William. The Polish People in Canada: A Visual History. “V: Ontario: A Century of Courage and Tenacity.” Montreal: Tundra Books, 1987. 53-73
1. Source: Makowski, William. The Polish People in Canada: A Visual History. “V: Ontario: A Century of Courage and Tenacity.” Montreal: Tundra Books, 1987. 53-73
- The Wilno Villager Official Tourist Site
- Wilno unofficial website
- Wilno Heritage Trails
- Wilno Heritage Society
- Annual Chicken Supper held at St. Mary's Church in Wilno.
- CHCR Homegrown Community Radio
- A Century of Courage and Tenacity The Kashoubs of Renfrew
See http://www.interment.net/data/canada/ontario/renfrew/hagarty/stmary/index.htm to See Saint Mary Cemetery Wilno, Hagarty Township, Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada @ www.interment.net/Canada/Ontario recorded by Marty C Byzewski, Apr 30, 2009. Home of Polish Pioneers and also see http://www.interment.net/data/canada/ontario/renfrew/hagarty/ststan/index.htm Saint Stanislaus Pioneer Cemetery Wilno, Hagarty Township, Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada The original Polish Pioneer Cemetery