The Swastika Symbol in Canada
It’s rather unusual for a town to be called ‘Swastika’. This particular township was founded in the early years of the 20th Century around a mining site in northern Ontario. The town was formed in 1908 by miners who came to develop the “Lucky Cross” (Swastika) gold mine.
During World War 2 people naturally got a bit edgy about having a town, the name of which inevitably drew people to associate it with Hitler and his dire Nazi symbol. Not surprisingly the local authorities thought it might be judicious to change it. They enlisted the Ontario Department of Highways to remove the name and substitute it with “Winston” in honour of their war-time champion Winston Churchill. However, no matter how reasonable this suggestion might have been the local inhabitants would have none of it. The signs put up one day were torn down by the next! The town was standing firm on the name which they believed originated from a Native Indian term meaning “setting of the sun”. Interestingly, a descendant of Thomas Babbington Macaulay also lent his support to the cause.
The determination of the locals to preserve their name is graphically presented on the cover of a Swastika Drug Company box which boldly declares, “Hitler be damned. This is our sign since 1922”. There is also more. The Swastika United Church had a long history. On 26 June 2011 the Church held its centenary, coinciding with the handing over of the building to the Wesleyan Church of Canada.
There are several other instances of the Swastika symbol being used. There were ice hockey teams named the ‘Swastikas’ in Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia during this early period. In November 2014 there was a grand opening of the former Swastika Public School building to provide more space for the community needs of the town.