21 November 2023

Swastikas on Canadian postage stamps

The symbol is used as an ornament in the corners of the Newfoundland stamp; on the two Air Post semi-officials (for use on private airlines), the symbol is part of the background color:

Derived from Sanskrit, the ancient and sacred language of Hindus in India, svastika means "conducive to well-being" and for thousands of years has been used as a good luck symbol in many cultures all over the world.  Many Indian nations in South, Central, and North America favoured this symbol, and several early 20th century companies featured it on their products. In Canada, some hockey teams, the symbol emblazoned on their jerseys, were called "The Swastikas." In northern Ontario, the residents of the small community of Swastika resisted pressure to change the name of their town during the Second World War, contrary to what took place in 1916 when the residents of Berlin, Ontario voted to change the name of their city to Kitchener.

It should not be surprising, therefore, that this symbol has appeared on a few Canadian postage stamps. The stamps in question are known as Air Post Semi-official issues. In the period 1924 - 1932 several private commercial airlines produced stamps to prepay the mail that they carried to areas that were inaccessible by other means. These companies operated under the strict regulations of the Post Office, and their stamps had to be affixed to the back of covers.
All of these stamps are relatively uncommon nowadays, cataloguing several hundred dollars each.

See also the adjacent post All swastikas are not created equal.


  1. I almost missed it on the three stamps with it on the background.

  2. The symbol shows up on the walls of temples that appear in kung fu movies.

  3. It was everywhere when I went to India. Also, this brave little Canadian town reminds me of Office Space:


  4. My MIL lives in a beautiful home built in 1920; it has 4 original American Standard bathrooms in 4 different color combinations, it’s lovely. The entire front porch floor is tiled in shades that complement the brick, and the tile also surrounds the door, where there are a large number of decorative tiles scattered about. And several of them are Swastikas. She basically blocked off access to the porch and directs visitors to the side door because the house is on the town’s historic register and they strongly discourage her from changing the facade.

  5. I heard somewhere (and cannot find a site to confirm it) that it made a difference whether the arms were turning clockwise or counter-clockwise. Has anyone else heard that?


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