Polish Settlements

An overwhelming majority of early Polish immigrants to Saskatchewan came from Galicia, a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire also known as Austrian Poland. After World War I, Galicia became part of the recreated Republic of Poland. Poles were deeply committed to their Roman Catholic faith, and in Saskatchewan they built or significantly contributed to the founding and development of over fifty churches, missions and parishes during the settlement period; these serve as a beacon to identify the locations of Polish immigration. Polish immigrants first came to Otthon in 1894 to complement a larger number of Hungarian settlers in this area; St. Cunegunda church was founded in the late 1890s. The first Polish and Ukrainian immigrants arrived in Candiac in 1896. In 1908, Polish settlers requested the name “Sobieski” for a hamlet, but were unsuccessful as Candiac was approved. The establishment of St. Joseph church there soon followed; the community was led by a dynamic Silesian-born Polish priest, Rev. Franciszek Pander, who had been ordained in Montreal in 1908. Father Pander also served a number of other churches in the area with sizeable Polish contingents: St. Columbkille at Grenfell (1903); St. Anne at Kipling (1907); and St. Patrick at Glenavon (1909).

Poles first arrived at Lemberg in the mid-1890s, and they were the largest ethnic group involved in the establishment of St. Michael in 1901. They also contributed significantly to the founding of St. Mary at Grayson (1907) and St. Elizabeth at Killaly (1911). Large numbers of Ukrainians and Poles from the Borszczów district of Galicia began to arrive in the area of Alvena, Fish Creek, and Prud’homme in the late 1890s. Poles and Ukrainians from the Buczacz district of Eastern Galicia first settled at Tiny, Buchanan, and Rama around 1901. St. Mary church was established Kowalowka (1905) and Sts. Peter and Paul church at Dobrowody (1907). As more Polish settlers came, they were mostly responsible for the establishment of St. Anthony at Rama (1922), St. Anne at Buchanan (1929), and St. Andrew Babola near Invermay. A few immigrants arrived at Cedoux in 1902, followed by a contingent of thirty Polish families who arrived at Weyburn on the Soo Line by train from Chicago in 1903.

Polish settlers first crossed the North Saskatchewan River at Petrofka north of Saskatoon in 1903, and led in the establishment of a number of communities and churches in the Redberry Lake area as settlement gradually moved westward toward North Battleford: Holy Trinity church at Orolow (1909), Holy Ghost at Albertown (1912), St. Michael the Archangel at Krydor (1913), St. Joseph at Alticane (1918), and St. Anthony at Redfield (1918). A small rectory was built in Krydor in 1926, which eventually evolved into a parish centre for all these churches; the Sokal district of Eastern Galicia was the source of many of these Polish immigrants. Polish immigrants from Wielkie Oczy began arriving in the Ituna-Goodeve- Hubbard area in 1904. They founded the original St. Stanislaus church in 1906 between Ituna and Hubbard. Other Polish churches were subsequently organized: Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Goodeve (1907), Little Church in the Bush near Jedburgh (1909), and Sacred Heart at Beckenham (1915). Polish immigrants began arriving in the early 1900s in the Kamsack, Mikado, Sturgis and Norquay districts; however, they were scattered among much large numbers of Ukrainians throughout this entire area.

Poles founded Our Lady of Perpetual Help church in 1908 in the countryside north of Wishart. Smaller Polish churches were later established at Model Farm (Sacred Heart, 1915) and Krasne (Our Lady of Visitation, 1928). Our Lady of Perpetual Help was eventually relocated in Wishart and evolved into a parish centre. The first Polish immigrants came to the Melfort area in 1904. Polish immigration into the area east of Prince Albert and north of the North Saskatchewan River started around 1906, and a number of small churches were formed: Sts. Peter and Paul at Claytonville (1910), Sacred Heart of Jesus at Janow Corners (1922), Mary of Perpetual Help at Honeymoon (1924), and St. Thaddeus at Henribourg (1928). Poles first came to Fosston in 1914, followed a much larger influx in the 1920s. St. Mary Queen of Poland at Fosston was soon established, followed by the missions of St. Rose of Lima at Rose Valley and St. Felix at Archerwill. This new wave of immigration led to a sizeable Polish presence in a number to churches that had already been established: St. Mary at Wadena, St. Joseph at Kelvington, St. Theresa at Lintlaw, and St. Helen at Kuroki and High Tor.

Lindy Kasperski

Further Reading

Renkiewicz, F. 1982. The Polish Presence in Canada and the United States. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.