The first Poles to arrive in Manitoba were ex-soldiers from the Des Meuron regiment in 1817 with Lord Selkirk, founder of the Red River colony. Other Poles to follow were Edvin Brokowski in 1870, Joseph Bulsiewicz in 1884, Charles Czerwinski in 1895 and others. Due to economic reasons, immigration from Poland (Małopolska – Lesser Poland) began to intensify in the mid to late 1890s.  According to census figures from 1901, there were 1674 Poles living in Manitoba and that number rose to 12,321 10 years later. With the arrival of these new immigrants, a new pioneer era has began.

“In the footsteps of the Polish Pioneers in Manitoba” is a project undertaken by Lech and Grazyna Galezowski, which is aimed at preserving the history and memory of the early Polish pioneers in Manitoba. There are some 80 known locations scattered throughout this province where Polish pioneers settled. Our goal is to locate all the actual places where they settled and lived and document as much information as possible about the church, community and its people. It is by capturing the disappearing history through old and new photographs, documents and conversations with the descendants of these pioneers that we hope to resurrect and preserve the history of Polish Pioneers for future generations. The Polish Diaspora, among other ethnic communities, played an important role in the development of Manitoba.

The traditions and heritage of Poles is mainly reflected in churches the early settlers built in Manitoba. For the most part, it is the church that sustained them in those early, difficult years, provided them with spiritual guidance and moral support. It was the center of cultural, educational and religious activity. Perhaps the most visible and permanent mark left by the pioneers is in the names they have chosen for their communities such as Zbaraż, Okno, Wisła, Polonia just to name a few.

It has been more than 100 years since the first wave of Polish settlers arrived in Manitoba. Many of the communities have long since disappeared from the landscape. Some are abandoned, vandalized or devastated while others are steadily declining or have been forgotten altogether. To preserve the memory of these early pioneers, some descendents have built monuments or erected cairns as a testament and tribute to their ancestors pioneering spirit.

Through this website, we would like to take our visitors on a journey to the past. We invite you to visit these places from the comfort of your home and rediscover the pioneering era of your ancestors. A brief history, photographs and a map are provided to provide you with an overall picture of what life was like back then.

It is our hope that some of you who visit this web page will have some additional information, original pictures or documentation that you would like to share with others as they search for their ancestors. In our travels, we also photographed cemeteries in each location because headstones also have a history of their own.

Our project covers the period from 1896 – 1939. This is the time where most of the churches, halls, schools were built and organizations were established. With the start of WWII, the true pioneering era came to an end. We hope you enjoy our website.