3. Kashuby i Kaszuby - Reunited

Thoughts and images from Ontario, Canada and Kaszuby, Poland, 2007.
In 1858 a group of immigrants, destined to become Canada's first Polish settlers, arrived in Ontario's Ottawa Valley from Kaszuby, Poland.
Kashuby i Kaszuby - Reunited

In the 1970's I was introduced to Ontario’s Kashub community in the Ottawa Valley, centred around Wilno, Barry’s Bay and Round Lake Center. As someone who has lived his entire life in southern Ontario, I was surprised and intrigued to find an area so dominated by one culture. When I asked about their ancestral homeland, the Kashubs talked in generalities and seemed to have little specific knowledge, but one phrase I heard often was, “They say it’s a lot like here.”

In 2006, while in Round Lake Centre to attend a wedding anniversary, I conceived a plan to explore that statement. I would photograph both the Wilno area of Ontario and the Kaszuby region of Poland, the ancestral home of Canada’s Kashubs.

My photographic work took place in 2007. I decided, as a non-Kaszub, to photograph the two Kaszubys the same way, staying in each region for extended periods of time, driving the back roads to find scenes and objects of interest, and interacting with people as situations arose. I searched for subject matter that was both an integral part of the present-day Kaszubys and had links to the past. This collection of images is the result.

This series of photographs was taken in 2007.
Images from the series (click to view): Borzyszkowy Church, Woman and Hands, Support Detail.
There are other images in this series that are not on this website. If you are interested in more information about them, please leave a message below or email me.

The Kaszubs of Poland and Canada

In 1858 a group of immigrants, destined to become Canada’s first Polish settlers, arrived in Ontario’s Ottawa Valley from Kaszuby, Poland.

Kaszuby is a region in northern Poland that extends approximately 100 km southwest from the city of Gdansk and is the homeland of the Kaszub people, a distinct ethnic group within Poland. The Kaszubs’ unique culture is visibly expressed through their architecture, crafts, dress, and their own language, which is still practised today.

The original group of Polish Kaszubs left their homeland seeking greater economic opportunities and freedom from religious persecution and political oppression. Others followed, and settled in Ontario around the present-day village of Wilno, an area generally described as Kashuby.

The wave of Kaszub immigration to Canada lasted approximately 30 years. Then, virtually all ties with their homeland were cut off. For the next 120 years the two Kaszubys - one in Ontario, the other in Poland - developed in their own separate ways. They lived through good times and bad, endured hardships, wars, and periods of oppression, losing awareness and knowledge of their counterpart across the ocean.

As time passed, the Canadian Kashubs recalled less and less of their Kaszubian identity. They knew they were Polish, yet they could not understand why the language they spoke was different from that of other Poles they encountered. This loss of cultural awareness has continued until quite recently.

With leadership provided by the Wilno Heritage Society (formed in 1998), the Canadian Kashub community has rediscovered its Kaszub roots and built relationships with Kaszubs in Poland. In 2008, to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Polish (Kaszub) settlers in Canada, numerous Kaszub dignitaries from Poland journeyed to Wilno, Ontario to take part in the festivities. Since 2008, numerous events in Ontario and Poland have contributed to closer relationships between the two Kaszubys. Several bus tours have taken Canadian Kashubs to visit their homeland in Poland and to meet Polish Kaszubs, and two Kashub pioneer buildings from Ontario have been transported to Szymbark, Poland and erected in the new Canadian section of the Kaszub Cultural Museum.
Support Detail

 Comments (click to expand)

Loading comments...

Add a comment (click to expand)