WILNO – It all began in 1858 when approximately 16 families consisting of 76 people left Prussian-occupied Poland to begin a new life in Canada. According to Wilno Heritage Society President Peter Glofcheskie, these families were Kashubs from central Pomerania, from the area around the villages of Lipusz, Lesno, Wiele and Koscierzyna. Travelling onboard a ship called the Heinrich, they arrived at the port of Quebec and made their way to Renfrew, and spent their first Canadian winter aided by local Irish settlers. In the spring of 1859, they journeyed beyond the village of Brudenell and 14 families settled on the Opeongo Road. A land agent designated 100 acres of properties to each family. Within four years, these families were required to erect a house, 18-by-20 feet, and clear and cultivate at least 12 acres. If those requirements were met, the ownership of the land became theirs. Over the next 50 years, hundreds of more Kashub families arrived. Other Poles from Falicia, Kocewie and the Poznan area, joined them. “Together, they were to build Canada’s First Polish Settlement,” Glofcheskie said. In 1972, a provincial plaque designating Wilno as Canada’s first Polish settlement was erected and dedicated at the lookout on Shrine Hill. For more pick up a copy of the April 25 paper.