Wilno

This article is about the town in Canada. For the city in Lithuania, see Vilnius

Wilno is a small community in eastern Ontario.

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It is the heart of a large Polish settlement in the area. “Wilno” is the Polish name for what is now the Lithuanian city of Vilnius.

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 oldest Polish settlement in Canada. The first European settlers in this area, circa 1858, were mainly of Kashubian origin from the then Prussian area of Poland. They are an integral part of what has been called the Kashubian diaspora. One of the reasons they chose this area to settle was the landscape which reminded them of their 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.

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.

Highway 60 forms the main route in and out of town.

The town is small and everything is within walking distance. There is no public transportation.

In the lower valley of the town there is a small area celebrating the Polish culture. To the east along Highway 60 is St. Mary’s Church, which is also tied to the Polish culture.

  • Polish Kashub Heritage Museum & Skansen, 1112 Wilno North Rd, Wilno, +1 613-756-6937. July & Aug: daily 11AM-5PM; last two weeks of June and first two weeks of Sep: Sa Sa 11AM-5PM. Many colourful displays, the antique furniture and the rich variety of artifacts and cultural memorabilia. Suggested donation: adult $2, child $1. (updated Jun 2018)

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