Kashuby - Polish immigrants

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The Madawaska Valley is the scene of the first Polish settlement in Canada. In 1859 several families arrived from the Kaszuby (pronounced KA-SHOOBY) region of Poland. This area, close to the Baltic Sea, was then part of Prussia. The people of this region speak a dialect, for which only recently grammar books and dictionaries have been written. The main settlement is Barry's Bay at the north end feature of Lake Kamaniskeg. The village of Wilno, a few miles away, is still the main center of the Kashuby culture.
The other settlers of the area are Irish. In the early years the main occupation was logging the virgin forests. Since the 1950's, many vacation homes have been built around the lakes by Polish and Irish people from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. This has improved the standard of living of the settlers' descendents.
Lake Kamaniskeg is 20km. long and its shores are hilly, rocky and wooded. There are a few sandy coves. The river Madawaska flows through it Many vacation homes have been built along its shores, some retired people live there all year round. There is wild life in the forests - deer, moose, black bears - but almost no fish in the lake. lake lake lake lake lake lake cottage
The Polish community has built a very attractive outdoor chapel, among the pine trees, on a small lake, a few kilometers SE from Barry's Bay. In the woods there are several small chapels. chapel chapel chapel
Close to the chapel there is a Polish Scout camp. The Scouts have built a memorial to the Boy and Girl Scouts who fought against the Nazis, in the Polish Resistance and in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The name of each battle location is inscribed on the steps. Scout memorial Scout memorial Scout memorial
The original Polish colony was established around a village called Vilno, a few kilometers NE of Barry's Bay. Here is the commemorative sign near the village and St. Mary's church (built in its present form in 1936). Wilno memorial Wilno church Wilno church altar
The Algonquin Provinicial Park lies north of the area with hundreds of kilometers of trails, rivers, lakes and camp sites. One of the most spectacular areas is the 100m deep Barron River Canyon, about 23km west of Pembroke. Barron canyon Barron canyon Barron canyon
If you want to learn more, go to Barry's Bay web site,   Kashuby web site or Algonquin Provincial Park.

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Last updated August 21, 2001