Happy Canada Day!

Madonna’s French-Canadian roots trace back to the mid-17th century and some of the earliest European settlers to arrive in what was then known as New France. If you have French-Canadian roots dating back to the initial Acadian/Quebec settlement period, chances are you will find yourself related to Madonna.

After researching my own family tree, I was initially surprised to learn that I am Madonna’s 8th cousin through my mother, who is Acadian, and that we share several familial ties. But as it turns out, there is nothing unusual about this at all. Due to the small pool of early settlers – and the relative isolation of the ones who remained or returned to what is now Canada following the Great Expulsion of Acadians – French Canadians would remain relatively genetically isolated for the next several centuries.

This bottleneck period resulted in a situation in which it is now actually more rare for a French Canadian to find another French Canadian that they are not directly related to. More often than not, multiple direct relations will be shared.

A bit of Canadiana for all y’all! 😉

To current, former, aspiring and honorary Canadians, have a happy and safe Canada Day!

Justin & Jay

6 responses

  1. I was so interested to discover about Madonna’s very deep French Canadian roots many years ago. I wonder if she has looked into that side of her family tree? She’s so proud of her Italian ancestry, romanticizes Italians and her mother, and yet she disses Canada and Canadians (as “boring”).

    As I’ve said before, Madonna is more Canadian than anyone I know. I’m only 3rd-4th generation settler-Canadian. Madonna is something like 11th generation Canadian. I’m no flag-waver, and I’m definitely not proud of my country’s genocide of indigenous peoples, but Madonna hides her shame of being Canadian in a different way — because it’s boring and not as sexy as being half Italian, I guess. Oh well, her flaws are just a part of her charm, and I still love her, despite them. Nobody’s Perfect.

  2. Hi Madonna Lova. Thanks for the comment. Here my take: I wouldn’t say it’s a negative association she has with Canada because I actually think she does have a lot of fondness for Canada because she associates it with her mother, and also her maternal grandmother with whom she was very close to. I think it’s the same sort of fondness she has for Michigan and that I have for my home town…there may be aspects of these places we would like to disassociate ourselves from, so that’s why it may seem like we dislike them at times, and I think that’s typical of most people, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t love and appreciate these places at the same time. She grew up right across the lake from the Canadian border, so she probably associates it with her own roots in Michigan, while her Italian heritage is more foreign and mysterious to her, so I think it’s natural that she would romanticize it more than Canada. After all, French Canadians lives were very difficult…they worked very hard sustaining themselves, the women basically had children non-stop through their child bearing years, often until it killed them…and yes, there’s the genocide of indigenous peoples across North America. So all in all, not much to romanticize. Although, I had more of an opportunity to experience Acadian culture growing up since we would often spend a month or two each summer in New Brunswick with my mom’s family, and it is a very welcoming culture with a musically rich heritage that I think she would really warm to, much the way she has in Portugal. She definitely used to focus almost exclusively on her paternal Italian heritage in the 80’s/90’s, but she has opened up about her Canadian roots a lot more since having Lola, I’ve noticed. I know she was also very close to her cousin in Montreal when she was younger (I believe her name is Odina or something similar?) and spent some time visiting her in Montreal before she started at the University of Michigan…there were some letters between them that turned up online years ago. I don’t think she would have done quite as much touring in Canada as she has in more recent years if it weren’t something she was personally interested in doing…she’d certainly make more money doing extra U.S. or European dates instead given the exchange rate.

  3. Thanks Sonicboy. I always appreciate your depth of knowledge on everything Madonna. And thank you for sharing your knowledge of your Acadian roots, history and culture. I romanticize les Acadiens for their vibrant culture. I am an envious (‘boring’) Anglo-Canadian… with 1/8 Italian DNA, and can speak French at least! 🙂

    I didn’t know about the cousin in Montreal and haven’t seen those letters you mentioned. I wonder if Christopher spent time with her, since he worked for a year with a Montreal dance company before joining Madonna as backup dancer. Christopher mentioned in his book that Madonna wasn’t close to one of her grandmothers (said she was nasty and didn’t visit her, unlike how Christopher felt about that grandmother). I thought that was the French-Canadian maternal grandmother, but I could be wrong.

    Yes, I agree, if Madonna could only have been exposed to her Acadian roots and culture, she would have embraced it as she does Portugese culture, with musical family & friends informally jamming in the kitchen / bar. It’s a shame she lost her maternal connection so young, but then if she hadn’t, she might not have turned out to be the extraordinary, powerful, disciplined, fearless, ageless, rebellious, sensitive, and creative woman she is today.

    And I can’t disagree with Madonna’s quips about boring Canadians. I often find myself echoing her sentiments as I observe the lack of vivacity, creativity and colour in so many of my fellow citizens. Yes, there are a lot of ‘boring’ Canadians! If only there were more Madonna fans everywhere.

  4. Thank you Madonna Lova! 🙂

    It was actually her paternal grandparents that Madonna was less close to. Her maternal grandfather died in 1959 and her grandmother Elsie never remarried, so the family would spend a lot of time with her in Bay City. As you may know, this why Madonna was born in Bay City; they were visiting Elsie when Madonna Sr. went into labor. Madonna would often stay with Elsie in Bay City for extended periods during summer break and on holidays.

    A great overview about Madonna’s relationship with Elsie and the time she spent in Bay City can be found here: https://michiganrockandrolllegends.com/mi-rock-a-roll-hall-of-fame/187-michigan-links

    Cheers!

    Justin

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