Wilno is the first and oldest Polish settlement in Canada. The original settlers in this area circa 1858 were mainly of Kashubian origin from the then German-occupied area of Poland. One of the reasons they chose this area to settle was because of the landscape which reminded them of their original homes.
At one time, John Rudolphus Booth’s Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway ran through the town mainly serving the lumber industry. The former train route has now been redeveloped into a recreational path. The former train station has likewise been converted into an early settler building and museum that presents the early history of the town. The museum contains the history of the first Kaszebe people as well as their immigration to Canada, freedom and eventually, after many hardships, journey to the Wilno area.
Wilno’s namesake was the city of Wilno, then in a Russian-occupied area of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, (now Vilnius, capital of Lithuania), the birthplace of Reverend Ludwik Dembski, who was a prominent community spiritual leader and town founder, who would not have wanted the town named after himself. Therefore, the townsfolk, grateful for his contributions to their town, may have suggested the name of Wilno.