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Swastika is a junction on the Ontario Northland Railway, where a branch to Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec leaves the ONR's main line from North Bay, Ontario to Moosonee. The Northlander passenger railway service between Toronto and Cochrane served the Swastika railway station, however connecting bus service exists along Highway 66 into downtown Kirkland Lake.
The town was named after the Swastika Gold Mine staked in the autumn of 1907 and incorporated on January 6, 1908. James and William Dusty staked the claims alongside Otto Lake for the Tavistock Mining Partnership, even though there is a legend that it is named after a native American word for "Good luck". The Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway had an engineers' camp nearby as they had to construct two railway bridges as they advanced northwards. The first usage of the name Swastika occurred in their 1907 Annual Report to indicate a water tank was located at the site to meet the needs of the steam trains, that opened up northern Ontario.
Prospectors and miners flocked to the area and after viewing the find at the Swastika Gold Mine they advanced even further throughout the surrounding region. In 1909 the Lucky Cross Mine adjacent to the T.& N.O. railway tracks began producing gold. A Mr. Morrisson started a farm and lodging alongside the tracks as early as 1907 and from there the community developed.
By 1911 a hotel and businesses were flourishing, the area to the east was heavily staked and in 1912 the major gold mines of Kirkland Lake had been found and developed by Harry Oakes. Swastika was the main transportation link with the railway and communications centre. Churches, schools, community groups and organisations continued to provide the needs of the residents of the area.
The notorious British Nazi-sympathizer Unity Mitford—sister of comic novelist/biographer Nancy Mitford and liberal journalist Jessica Mitford—was conceived in Swastika, where her aristocratic family owned a small, non-producing gold mine.
In 2008 the small community of Swastika celebrated the town's centennial.
World War II
During World War II the provincial government sought to change the town's name to Winston in honour of Winston Churchill, but the town refused, insisting that the town had held the name long before the Nazis co-opted the swastika symbol (卐). Residents of Swastika used to tell the story of how the Ontario Department of Highways would erect new signs on the roads at the edge of the town. At night the residents would tear these signs down and put up their own signs proclaiming the town to be "Swastika".
Christopher Macaulay was instrumental in fighting to keep the name of the town unchanged despite the association with Nazism.
Swastika has periodically been subject to derision for retaining the name. Even modern day residents, however, have continued to resist a change.
The Swastika area continues to support a strong tourist industry throughout the year. The summers are met with a number of anglers, hunters, and campers looking for adventure. Winters are especially popular as a result of the well-maintained snowmobile trails in the area. There are also a number of tourist destinations in the area, including the recently developed Hockey Heritage North in Kirkland Lake.
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