The Acadian Star: A History of Home

At, we love how home and history intertwine.

Driving through Nova Scotia on a recent trip, I noticed that a lot of houses in the southern region of the province have a large tin star affixed prominently on thier outer walls. My aunt explained to me that the stars identify homes where the family, or members of the family have Acadian heritage.


Photo courtesy of Google Images. 


I turned to my aunt for a quick history lesson: The Acadians were French colonists who settled in Acadia (in modern day Canada, this was what now includes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and parts of Quebec) in the 17th century. As fishermen and farmers, they lived mainly along the Bay of Fundy shores, before the British conquered Acadia in 1710.

Continued resistance after this time caused the British to impose on Acadians the Great Expulsion of 1755-1764: all Acadians were forced to sign allegiance to Britain, and, if not, were deported. Their homes were burned, and about one third of the 11, 500 Acadians died as a result of the conditions of the exportation (ex. disease and starvation on boats). Check this out for CBC's in-depth look at this history.

Today, there is an area known as “the French Quarter.” This is where many descendants of Acadians still live, or have come back to. Acadian stars can be seen prominently posted on the sides of many houses in this area, as well as in P.E.I and New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia, they have a strong presence from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Sable island. The star can also be found on homes in New England, Boston and Louisiana areas, as this is where many Acadians were relocated to.


Image courtesy of Google Images. 


The star is a significant Acadian symbol (on the Acadian flag and on its own). It represents St. Mary, the patron saint of the Acadians, as well as “the Star of the Sea.”

Especially in the French Quarter, many houses have additional Acadian symbolism in order to declare their presence and claim their space. Many will fly the Acadian flag, and/or paint their garage, or a Muskoka chair (also a prominent visual in Nova Scotia), in the design of the Acadian flag.


Image courtesy of Google Images.


Similar to how the iconic Hudson's Bay blanket colours eventually pervaded all aspects of design and home, the Acadian star has also diverged.


Image courtesy of Emily Stringer. 


Image courtesy of Emily Stringer.


It is a history that is not forgotten, and the prominence of the Acadian stars demonstrates this. The star is not a simple decoration; it is a statement of family, heritage, and home. It celebrates and remembers the pride of the people that it represents.

Using, and the help of relatives, my aunt was able to trace her family tree, and discovered strong Acadian roots in our family. She and her husband now have posted their own Acadian star on the exterior of their home.

We recommend doing some digging of your own! Chances are, you'll make some intriguing discoveries about your family and Canadian identity!


Household Acadian stars available for sale. Image courtesy of Emily Stringer.


Researched and Written by Emily E.A. Stringer, Undergraduate of Sociology, and Geography: Environment & Sustainability, at the University of British Columbia.

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