Events Family Stones Heritage Store Heritage Walks Stories 2008 Celebration
Ewa Zadarnowski
 & Ambassador 
Piotr Ogrodzinski

On Tuesday evening, May 6, 2008, Canada's Kashubian heritage was honoured in Ottawa at the official opening of the Exhibit: Celebrating 150 years of Canada's Polish Kashub heritage at the Bytown Museum. Mr. Piotr Ogrodzinski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland offers Congratulations.

Wojtek Etmanski, Shirley, 
Agnieszka & Pawel Trawicki

 Ewa Zadarnowski, President of the Polish Canadian Women's Federation, Ottawa Branch, introduced Dr. Piotr Ogrodzinski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Canada, Mr.Jerzy Czartoryski, President of the Canadian Polish Congress, Ottawa Branch, and Mr. David Shulist, President of the Wilno Heritage Society, who addressed representatives from Canada's Polish and Polish Kashub communities.

 Mr. Rick Norlock, MP [Quinte -Northumberland] and a descendant of the original Kashubs in Canada, was also scheduled to speak in honour of Canada's Polish Kashub heritage,   but was delayed because of a late day vote in the House of Commons. Guests also included Mr. Wojtek Etmanski and Agneszka and Pawel Trawicki, representing the Kashubs of Poland and the Kashubian Pomeranian Association in Gdansk, Poland.  

  It is very fitting that this celebratory exhibit is featured in the capital of Canada as Canada prides itself on being a multi-cultural mosaic enriched by the heritage of its many peoples, some of whom, like the Kashubs,  still retain elements of their original cultural traditions although they have been in Canada for many generations. The Kashubs are recognized as the first large group of Polish immigrants to arrive in Canada with their Canadian history starting in 1858. Today, the Kashubs constitute the most distinct regional and ethnocultural group in Poland. Canada's Kashubian cultural heritage has also become more distinct, especially in the last decade,  with the creation of the Polish Kashub Heritage Park and Museum in the village of Wilno, which is recognized as Canada's first Polish Settlement and which together with Barry's Bay, Round Lake Centre, Killaloe, Combermere, etc. is still home to many descendants of the pioneer Kashubian families.

Shirley Mask Connolly, curator of Polish Kashub Heritage Museum in Wilno, teamed up with Ewa Zadarnowski President of the Polish-Canadian Women's Federation, Ottawa Branch, to co-ordinate this  special 150th Anniversary Exhibit at the Bytown Museum in celebration of this unique heritage. The Exhibit mounted by Shirley Mask Connolly features a variety of large display panels using photographs and copies of original documentation to describe the arrival of the first Kashubs in Canada in 1858  and their struggle to survive on land with little agricultural potential. Included are emigration documents as well as reports from the Canadian Government Immigration Department [then under the Department of Agriculture].  The Kashubs came to Canada in hope of a better life and land to farm. They arrived here penniless but were sustained by their strong faith. Through sheer determination, they endured great hardship and deprivation and survived in the wild free grant lands of the Opeongo Colonization Road and the nearby townships. The exhibit at the Bytown also includes photographs of Kashubian immigrant families, their first Canadian homes and farms, as well as an antique wedding portrait, Crown Land Reports and a Free Grant deed.  Artifacts include colourful contemporary Kashubian revival pottery and embroidery from the Wilno Museum juxtaposed with a few treasures of the pioneer Kashubian home - primarily religious objects such as their precious Polish hymn books [Spiewniks], prayer books, prayer beads and holy pictures. Also on display is the richly embroidered "ceremonial" costume of a Kashubian woman.

The display fills one room in the historic stone building which dates back to the early days of Bytown and is indeed a fitting place to give tribute to the rich cultural heritage and proud inheritance of a unique group of Canadians who can trace their roots back a century and a half - who passed through Ottawa on their way to the wilds of the Ottawa Valley starting in 1858 and whose culture endures to the present day. The Exhibit continues until June 22, 2008 at the Community Gallery in the Bytown Museum, located alongside the Rideau Canal where it links with the Ottawa River, and then will be moved [in part] upriver to the Bonnechere and to the McDougall Mill Museum in Renfrew for the month of July, 2008.

For more information on the Wilno Heritage Society e-mail: