In 1975, Wilno celebrated it's Centennial marking it Canada's Oldest
Polish Settlement. It had been some 120 years earlier, between 1858 and 1864, beginning with only a small group of sixteen families, that the first
Polish immigrants settled in the area known as Hagarty township.With great heroism, the group began to etch out an existence in the depths of forests
and rocky hills. The inital group was joined by another 250 families between 1864 and the 1890's through remarkable admiration for the area's
resemblance to their native land of the Kaszubian region of Poland.
Some well known names coming from these groups included: Blank,
Burchat, Etmanski, Rekowski, Szczypior, Szmaglinski, Szulist, and others. They came from districts of Poland such as the following: Lubawa, Puck,
Starograd, Kartuzy, Tuchola, Brodnia, Chojnice, Koscierzyna, Wejherowo, Gdynia, Gdansk, Gniew and Tczew.
The principles of 'Wiara i Wolnoscl (faith and freedom), were indeed those for which the forefathers of
present generations fled political and religious oppression. Courage and determination were qualities necessary to battle isolation and a tough environment.
The New Church
The role of the early pastors in the Wilno Community was of importance as they were the prime sources of
ideas and organization. The community members and individuals in the parish were the real work horses in the
early development of the region. This is quite evident in the function of early church councils and in the
willingness of all to give of themselves in the building of the first church and rectory.
This same drive is observed in the building of St. Mary's in 1936. After the loss of St. Stanislaus Church on
February 2, 1936, it took five months to organize and complete the foundations of the present church. The
cornerstone of the new church was blessed on July 1, 1936. Most of the work was completed by hand and by
May 23, 1937 the bell tower was completed and the bells were rung. On June 29, 1937 the new church was
solemnly blessed under the name of Our Lady, Queen of Poland. Many gave of themselves in work, time,
material goods and monetary gifts, often giving of the very little they themselves had during these difficult years.
The present edifice remains today a true monument to the parish people of the past, and to those who have upkept it until this day.