Strange Place Names: Swastika, Ontario

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Scattered across the world are cities and towns with odd place names. Canada has more than its share if you go looking. In Northern Ontario, just a couple of minutes southwest of Kirkland Lake, you can find the village of Swastika.


Yes, really.


According to Wikipedia, it was named after the Swastika Gold Mine, staked in 1907, which was named for the Sanskrit good luck symbol.


And I’m absolutely serious here, it’s on Trans Canada Highway 66, though I couldn’t get a picture with both signs in it.

I was in Kirkland Lake this past weekend and took a little time to explore the area when I could. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to go to Swastika until we were on our way home, and there wasn’t time to look around much, but it seemed like a normal enough small town, with a bunch of houses, a few stores, a church, a school, a post office, and a fire station. Also a small park next to the river. And in that park, a train for children to climb on.

(Not my picture. All of the photos on my phone are a little bit fuzzy.)

One wonders why the town didn’t change its name during the Nazi years. I’m sure there was probably discussion over it, but I think the final decision was probably to raise a middle finger in Hitler’s direction. Lending a small amount of support to my theory is this easily-found photo of a period sign from the Swastika Drug Company.

So I take the name of the town not changing as, “Screw the Nazis. We were here first.” I like the persistence. And the defiance.

Still, for people from Swastika, I imagine it might make for the occasional awkward pause before answering the question, “Where are you from?”

Be well, everyone.

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  • John Purificati

    I’m from Timmins which is within an hour’s ride to Swastika. I have read that the Mine Doctor was a German immigrant and went back to Germany in the late 20s. Apparently, he was involved in the Nazi movement and when the party was looking for a symbol he suggested the Swastika, something that he was most familiar with.

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