Prince, Joseph & Josephine
Prince, Joseph & Josephine

Prince, Joseph & Josephine

Prince, Joseph & Josephine

Joseph Prince

Josephine Bleskie

Joseph Prince, born in West Prussia, one of twelve children, the son of Anthony Prinz/Prince and Magdalena Kinowska, was only nine years old when he came to Canada. His family was among the first group of Polish Kashub settlers to claim land along the Opeongo Colonization Road in 1859.

Josephine Bleskie, daughter of Joseph Zblewski/Bleskie and Magdalena Jakubowski/ Yakabuski also born in West Prussia, one of nine children, arrived the following year. She was only 3 years old when her family located on the Opeongo Line, later moving to Sherwood Township.

Joseph and Josephine were married in 1872 at Brudenell and eventually settled on Siberia Road in Sherwood Township southwest of Barry’s Bay. Together they had thirteen children. Josephine, a devoted housewife and a loving and caring mother, who raised her children in primitive pioneer times, suffered the loss of three children. She would cook big meals, bake large batches of bread, churn butter, plant a large garden, store vegetables in the root cellar, can and preserve a storage of food for winter use and tend to the numerous daily farm chores.

She saw her daughter, Monica, join a cloistered religious order in New York and later several of her grandchildren became nuns and priests. She made the necessary preparations for the celebration of Mass by visiting priests in the Prince farmhouse prior to the construction of the mission church.

A farmer, merchant, school board secretary-treasurer, sawmill operator and industrialist, Joseph’s greatest achievement lay in his ability to convert his water-powered mill on Greenan’s Creek and set up the first steam-driven sawmill in the area. He produced lumber for many houses including the Balmoral Hotel when Josh Billings lost the first hotel by fire and the first mission church built in 1896, on land donated by the Prince family.

In 1904, Joseph opened a retail business in the former Inglis Store on Opeongo Line in Barry’s Bay. In later years, the business became known as Prince’s Store which operated the first drug store in town.

Joseph Prince left an impressive mark on the development of the early history of Barry’s Bay, but his greatest distinction is that of being considered one of the area’s early industrialists.

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