Poles in Manitoba
by Darlene Litchie - August, 2003

 

The first Poles to settle in Manitoba were soldiers who formed part of the military escort of the Selkirk expedition, ca 1817. They had served in Napoleon´s army in France and had fallen prisoner to the British. As a condition of the release they volunteered for duty in the colonies.

Poles began to emigrate from Europe and the United States and settle in Manitoba in the late 19th century. Prior to WW1 the flow of immigrant increased as peasants from south east Poland left poverty and overcrowded conditions in search of free land.

The second wave of immigration from Poland occurred between 1918 and 1939. Tradesmen and educated people came after hearing that Canada was the land of opportunity.

During WW11 Polish refugees from all walks of life settled in Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada.