Wilno, Ontario

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Wilno, Ontario

The community of Wilno, Ontario is situated on the border of Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards and Madawaska Valley townships in Renfrew County, Ontario.


Wilno is nestled in the rolling, picturesque terrain of the Madawaska valley which was largely shaped during the demise of the Laurentide Ice Sheet at the end of the last North American Ice Age.


Wilno is the first and oldest Polish settlement in Canada. The original settlers in this area, circa 1858, were mainly of Kashubian origin from the then Prussian area of Poland, and they therefore constitute an integral part of what has been called the Kashubian diaspora.[1] One of the reasons they chose this area to settle was because of the landscape which reminded them of their original homes.

Rolling Madawaska Hills Hwy 60

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. Where former train station used to sit, an early settler building and museum that presents the early history of the town has been built. The museum and open air wooden skansen (Swedish for "ethnographic museum") 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, Folk Dancers Aug 3 2008
Wilno, Folk Dancers Aug 3 2008

Wilno's namesake was the city of Vilnius (Wilno in Polish), then in a Russian-occupied area of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, now 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.

Kaszub Griffin

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,[2] 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.

In September 2015 three women; Carol Culleton, 66, Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, Nathalie Warmerdam, 46 were murdered in and near Wilno.

Annual Chicken Supper on the Labour Day Weekend[edit]

St Mary's Church, Wilno

This supper has been an annual event for over 65 years. Approximately 2,500 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Kashubian Emigration – Bambenek.org". bambenek.org. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  2. ^ 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

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°30′41″N 77°33′37″W / 45.5114°N 77.5602°W / 45.5114; -77.5602

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