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What's in a name?  The story of Swastika

Bruce Ricketts

The swastika is a happy symbol perverted by the Nazis in World War II.  The swastika, from the Sanskrit for "good luck", is as ancient as the sea.  The symbol has been found from Scandinavia to Africa to North America and Asia.  It was the symbol of the Aryans, a race that included Romans, Greeks, Tuetons and Slavs, to name but a few.  Buddhists regarded it as a chakra or wheel of the law; the Tibetans called it Yun-drun or path of life.

In 1904, Jim and Bill Dusty, two rugged freelance prospectors, took a contract from a group of investors to locate a silver mine in an area known to hold gold.  They found no silver but in 1907 they staked out the Swastika Gold Mine.  In 1908, the town was incorporated as Swastika.  The Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway established a watering station near the town and miners and prospectors flooded into the area.  In 1909 a new mine, called Lucky Cross (after the good luck symbol of the swastika), adjacent to the T&NO railway tracks began producing gold.  By 1911, the town consisted of hotels, stores and schools.  The little town flourished.

In 1935, the raise of Nazism in Germany created a major problem for the few hundred people of Swastika.  As war loomed and then exploded in Europe the Ontario government decided that German sounding names should not exist in Ontario, regardless of the origins of the names or the peoples of the towns or area.  Berlin, Ontario was changed to Kitchener and Swastika was changed to Winston.  While the name change stuck in Kitchener, the townsfolk of Swastika were not amused.  They tore down the Winston sign and replaced it with a restored Swastika sign (good for them!) and another sign which read, "To hell with Hitler, we came up with our name first

If you are looking for Swastika, Ontario, just go north on Highway 11 from North Bay to Highway 66.  Turn right towards Kirkland lake and look for the sign of good luck.

09/09/2008

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