Wilno was built by two Slavic groups from Europe. The Kashubs arrived in Canada in 1858 from their homeland of Kashubia (“Kaszëbë” in their native Kashubian language) which at the time of immigration was under Prussian/German rule. The Polish arrived in Canada in the early 1860’s from their homeland of Poland. Most of the Polish people who came to Wilno in the 1860’s came from the Galician area of Poland which was under Austrian rule. Today, Wilno is recognized throughout the world as Canada’s First Kashubian Settlement 1858, and Canada’s First Polish Settlement 1864. http://www.wilno.com/
Droga Krzyzowa (Cross Roads)
When immigrants from Poland settled in the Wilno area, they brought with them not only a rich cultural heritage, but also a deep religious tradition. They settled in some very rugged land. Travel was very difficult – road conditions were poor and journeys were long. Those settlers longed for a place to worship.
There was no Catholic Church close by. The nearest church was in Brudenell, built in the 1860’s. It was near impossible for the pioneers living near Paugh Lake to make it to church in Brudenell. And even those living closer found that the terrain, the weather and the distance hindered their ability to worship in church.
To satisfy their strong need to pray to Our Lord the settlers erected large wooden crosses at the intersections of main roads. This was a tradition they borrowed from the motherland. On Sundays and Holy Days the pioneers close to each intersection would gather at the crossroads and celebrate their Faith. These crosses were not used, however, for regular service. The prayer at the crosses was private prayer. Rosaries were recited and the appropriate Sunday litany was recited. The worship that occurred at the crossroads was a very special religious experience – different from attending church. Our forefathers here took nothing for granted. They had no communication, no reliable transportation and no secure income. Yet they were grateful for every step they took in life. And they thanked our Lord.
It became tradition to make the sign of the cross when one passed a cross at an intersection. Gentlemen would remove their hats also. And not only were the crosses a place of worship for our ancestors, but they were a stopping place for those making the long journey into town. It was a place for the pioneers to stop and thank the Lord that he saw them that far into a journey. It was also a place for settlers to meet and to plan (e.g., meeting to organize a barn raising, etc.) and to pass on information and the news of the day.
From the Opeongo Line where the first Polish pioneers settled, northward to the Hamlet of Wilno, and up to the Paugh Lake area you can still see some of these crosses; the symbol of how strong and how important faith was to our ancestors.
It has been noted that there were approximately 20 crosses erected originally in this area. With the exodus of the young from the farms in the 1950’s, many of these crosses decayed and were never seen again. There are currently only 6 original pioneer crosses still standing in the Wilno hills and two modern crosses which were erected more recently. One of these modern crosses was erected by Fr. Wilowski in 1933 and stands proudly atop Shrine Hill.
It is important that our generation remember the hard lives our ancestors lived. It is important to resurrect the crosses of Wilno and with them the strong faith of our forefathers. Our enjoyment of this great land we live upon today is possible only because of the hard work and the strong faith of our pioneer ancestors.
Kashub Day Festival
The first Saturday in May at Canada’s Kashubian Heritage Park.
Wilno’s Heritage Park is Located on Highway 60, 1112 Wilno Road North,
Wilno, ON K0J 2N0.
St Mary Catholic Church
17325 Highway 60, Wilno
St Mary’s Catholic Church stands proud and tall on top of Shrine Hill in Wilno. The Church was built by descendants of Kashubian and Polish pioneers. The Kashubs arrived in Canada in 1858 from their homeland which was then under Prussian/German rule. The Polish people arrived in the early 1860s. Most of those who arrived in Wilno came from the Galician area of Poland around Krakow, which had been under Austrian rule.
In 1875 these settlers built a chapel and church called St. Stanislaw Kostka Church but it burned down in 1936 and the current church was built. The cornerstone was blessed on July 1, 1936. In St. Mary’s two religious icons find their home- a replica of Our Lady of Sianowo, Queen of Kashubia/Kazebe, and a picture of our Lady of Czetochowa, Queen of Poland/Polska.
There is a special bond between the Kashub people and the Polish people because their homelands are essentially intertwined. A bulletin in the Church reads “There is no Kashubia without Poland and there is no Poland without Kashubia.” Such is the love story between two nations of Slavic peoples who built the beautiful community of Wilno.
The annual chicken supper is held on the Labour Day weekend. It’s been an event for over 65 years!
Wilno Tavern Restaurant
Nestled in the gentle hills of the Madawaska Valley, the Wilno Tavern Restaurant has been offering exceptional hospitality for over 100 years. This historic pub features hearty Polish fare, celebrating the heritage of Wilno’s early pioneer families, as well as a traditional Canadian menu. The tavern is equally famous for vibrant entertainment – Tuesday Nite Blues Jam, as well as rock, country, jazz or folk bands on weekends.
The Wilno Tavern, strives to prepare hearty portions homemade with top quality ingredients selected to appeal to a wide variety of personal tastes. Fresh salads, vegetarian selections, meal deals for kids and mouth-watering pies and desserts made on the premises are all available.
Traditional Polish Food Buffet features jumbo pierogies and cabbage rolls made in our kitchens as well as pickled herring (sledzie), polish sausage and sauerkraut, spiced red cabbage plus much more! This buffet is served every Saturday and Sunday from May to October.
Wilno Tavern music rocks the Valley with a lineup that ranges from the popular Tuesday Nite Blues Jam to a monthly Country Music House Party on the first Friday of each month.
Occasional weekend entertainment features blues, classic rock, reggae and local singer-songwriters.
The Homestead at Wolf Ridge Golf Wilno/Killaloe
Licensed clubhouse and patio
214 Stone Church Road
Killaloe ON, K0J 2A0
Toll Free: 1-866-356-1818
We are located 3 km west of Killaloe, only 15 minutes from Barry’s Bay.
Turn south on Stone Church Road and follow our signs.