For a small community, Wilno is full of rich Polish history and charming personalities. I find myself wandering through the Town often and am excited to share my recent experience visiting Wilno.
With Wilno being the first Polish settlement in Canada, it seemed only fitting to visit the Polish Kashub Heritage Museum & Skansen first. There are many historic buildings to wander through and my favourite was the log shed display building, as there were neat old farm tools on display. The interactive buildings at the museum helped me learned about Polish Kashubian cultural heritage. The farm log house had many fascinating items, which belonged to some of the first settlers. Some items I thought were most intriguing were the handmade rocking chair, wood stove and antique plates.
My next stop was The Wilno Craft Gallery, which was surprisingly full of all types of art. Owner, Ann, told me all the pieces are Canadian, and most are made by local artists. There was jewelry, pottery, homemade candles, woodwork, hand bags and so much more. It is a must see stop, which will be sure to wow you. I couldn’t help but buy a dip bowl in the shape of a canoe, and a bee’s wax candle. You will be sure to feel the charm of Wilno after talking to Ann; she even told me stories of the old days.
I wandered into the locally famous Wilno Tavern. The food is homemade with a Polish theme. I ordered the pierogis and cabbage rolls, and was not disappointed. If you are not sure which item from the menu you want, you can look on the calendar for their Polish Buffet night. Every Tuesday night for as far back as I can remember they host Blues Night Jam. If you want to see hospitality and a great show at its finest, Blues Night is just that. The tavern has been the centre of the community for decades offering everyone travelling through a welcoming atmosphere.
Feeling well fed, I wanted to wander through more of Wilno. I knew there were two places to visit with an incredible view. I found myself at the St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Polish Parish in Canada. I was in awe with how stunning the church looked. When I turned around the view of the hills was magnificent.
I drove down the road a little further to find myself at Canada’s first Polish settlement. Though I’d already eaten, I was thinking it would be a great spot to stop and enjoy lunch with a view. There are also stories of Polish history throughout the site. One story spoke about the first settlers arriving in 1864 and establishing a thriving agricultural community.
There are other stories to be heard, but you will have to go to Wilno to know them. Wilno is a gem of the Ottawa Valley that everyone passing through needs to stop at to enjoy the views, heritage, culture and hospitality.