Saturday, April 29, 2017
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Casimir S. Gzowski: A Most Remarkable Polish-Canadian

Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO, CANADA. Casimir Gzowski followed the all-to-well-worn path of so many Poles who departed Poland for one oppressive or dire reason of the sort. Most emigrated for reasons of economic necessity and/or seeking personal and political freedoms. Gzowski, a Polish patriot, was forced to flee from Russian-Partitioned Poland and he finally settled in the safe haven of the Dominion of Canada. These circumstances were a direct result of the Czar's Imperial Russian Army crushing the Polish Uprising of 1830, thereby forcing 10,000 of its patriotic leaders into foreign exile away from their Polish homeland.

The Ontario historical plaque shown above is placed in a beautiful garden setting here, adjacent to the magnificent cataract of the Horseshoe Falls. It succinctly describes the life and times of a truly amazing Pole, as follows:


Ontario historical plaque

First chairman of the Niagara Parks Commission (1885-93) Gzowski was born in Russia of Polish parents. Forced to emigrate, following participation in the Polish Rising of 1830, he came to Canada in 1841. An exceptionally able engineer, he first served as a government construction superintendent. He later organized a company which built the Grand Trunk Railway from Toronto to Sarnia, 1853-7, and the International Bridge across the Niagara River at Fort Erie in 1873. He was a founder of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers in 1887. A colonel in the Canadian militia, he was appointed Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the Queen in 1879 and knighted in 1890. Gzowski served as Administrator of Ontario 1896-97.

With Gzowski as an outstanding example, one can only begin to imagine the devastating effect on the building of a future and viable Poland caused by the desperate emigration of so many Poles over too many years. The critical loss of their potential collective contributions no doubt hobbled Poland in every aspect of its development.

But all of the talents, skills and labors subsequently lost to Poland became a great and valuable benefit to the many grateful host countries around the world who welcomed the Polish emigrants.

Poland's loss was their gain.


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