Life and Times of Michel Haché-Gallant
Major credit must be given to Fr. Patrice Gallant, author of “Michel Haché-Gallant et ses descendants”, volumes I and II, from whose works the author of this biography has liberally quoted, making up much of the body of the article, and to Rob Ferguson, author of “The Search for Port La Joye”, published in the Spring/Summer 1990 volume of The Island Magazine, providing much of the “Aftermath” information.
Special thanks are extended to Benjamin E. Achee, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org for his permission to include information from his Achee//Gallant/Hache web page in this biography.
This is a biography of Michel Haché-Gallant, (1662-1737), who at the time of his death was the patriarch of a large, extended family of Acadian colonists, and who had spent his last 17 years in the French settlement of Port La Joye (near old Fort Amherst which is located on the southeast shore of Charlottetown harbour) on Ile Saint-Jean (now Prince Edward Island). Beside his considerable progeny, he left behind a farm near the colony’s administrative headquarters. Eight years later New England militia put it to the torch.
Father Antoine Bernard, in his book “L’Acadie vivante” gives an inventory of the main Arcadian families from the three Maritime provinces. Leblanc leads with 2,759 families. Arsenault is second with 1,543 families. Third is Gallant, with 1,167 families. If we add to this last count the 369 Haché families mentioned in the inventory, The Gallant and Haché families total 1,536, all descending from the same ancestor, Michel Haché.
Little is known for certain of Michel Haché-Gallant’s ancestry. The Honorable Bona Arsenault and Fr. Patrice Gallant, have studied this origin and have come to the same conclusion. This conclusion was given out as pure hypothese, as the documents examined could not give absolute proof. Many circumstantial facts found in the archives of the Court of Justice in Quebec and in the life of Nicholas Denys, tell us that Michel Larché, known in history by the name Michel Haché surnamed Gallant was thought to have been born about 1662 at St. Pierre, Acadia (near the present St. Peters, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia). It is thought that he was the son of Pierre Larché, born about 1640, originally from the parish of Saint Pierre in the town of Montidier, bishop’s residence of Beauvais, in France.
A recently discovered document in the archives in Paris, lists a Michel Gallant, husbandman (farmer), on the passenger list of the ship “St. Jehan”, which sailed for Acadia on 1 April 1636. On a trip to France, Father Patrice Gallant, visited the Village of Montidier, which was restored after having been destroyed during the First World War. He noted being unable to locate any records or knowledge of the names Larché or Haché, but that there was a burial vault in the cemetery and a monument in the village bearing the name “Galland”. He was also able to find the record of a Pierre Galland who was born about the time our Pierre Larché was. These facts pose the question, was the name Gallant really a surname given in Acadia, or did the name originate in France? The question also arises, was the Michel Gallant, who sailed to Acadia in 1636, really the Pierre Larché the father of Michel Haché-Gallant? The span of years mentioned would have allowed this.
Pierre Larché was employed by Nicholas Denys, a persistent, if luckless entrepreneur who in 1650 had established a trading post at St. Pierre, Ile Royale, located beside the present day St. Peter’s Canal, on Cape Breton Island. Larché had been married to an Adrianne Langlois, born abut 1640, but he was thought to have taken a Micmac wife when he was at St. Pierre. Larché died about 1668 in Miscou, New Brunswick and was dead when his daughter Madeleine was married to Elie Voisen, in Notre Dame Church in Quebec on October 15, 1688.
Nicholas Denys’ commercial establishment in Acadia was not mentioned in the census of the time. Not being on friendly terms with those in authority at Port Royal, Nicholas Denys often did business with those at Quebec where he had numerous and well-established friends. Nicholas Denys met with many difficulties from his rivals, who in 1667 captured the establishment he had at St. Pierre in Cape Breton. During that summer Nicholas Denys, who was already 70 years old, crossed to France on one of his rival La Giraudiere’s ships. During his absence, his only son Richard looked after his business. Denys returned from France the following spring on a ship that probably went directly to Quebec. The French authorities having restored Denys’ former rights at St. Pierre, his son went to get him in a schooner.
It is very likely on the occasion of this voyage that, after the death of their father, Richard Denys would have brought Michel Larché along with his sister Madeleine, to Trois-Rivières in New France, and that Nicholas Denys confided them to his son-in-law Michel Leneuf and his daughter Mary. This would explain the baptismal act of April 24, 1668, if it really is Michel Larche’s.
Denys’ establishment at St. Pierre was destroyed by fire during the winter of 1668-69. Now ruined, Denys took refuge at Nipisiquit (Bathurst) during the summer of 1669. He died there in 1688 at the age of 90. Incidentally, Deny’s trading post at St. Pierre, which was partially excavated by a Canadian Parks Service team in 1985, is one of the most significant 17th-century sites in Atlantic Canada. See historical site at: fortress.uccb.ns.ca/parks/canel_e.html
At Trois-Rivières in New France
Michel LeNeuf, Sieur de la Vallière, Landlord and founder of Beaubassin, moved there from Trois-Rivières. It was at Trois-Rivières on 24 April 1668, that M de la Poterie, father of Michel LeNeuf and of Miss de la Vallière, stood with Miss de la Vallière as godfather and godmother of a boy named Michel, who was eight years old, came from Acadia and had a father who was French and a mother who was probably Micmac. The baptized child may have been Michel Haché, whom the Sieur de la Vallière considered his adopted son, his man of trust.
Michel Haché’s baptismal records still exist in Quebec and state that he was baptized April 24, 1668, when he was eight years old, with documentation that his father was a Frenchman and his mother was an Esquimo (but more likely was a Mexis Indian as there were no Eskimo in this region of Canada).
It is not known if Michel Haché had brothers, but a Madeline Larché, who may have been a sister, was reported to have married a Elie Voisin, on 15 October 1668, at Quebec with a dowry of 300 pounds. Sir Pierre Denys, son of Simon Denys and husband of Catherine Leneuf, and so brother-in-law to Michel Leneuf, attended Madeline’s wedding as principal witness, which supports the hypotheses that Madeline was Michel Larche’s sister. Otherwise, why would Sir Pierre Denys, a person of fame in Quebec, future Lord of Perce in Gaspe, have attended the wedding? In the same manner, the presence of Pierre Denys, Catherine Leneuf’s husband at the wedding, would point to some relationship between Madeline Larché and Michel Larché. Madeline was taken to court 18 July 1678 and was accused of living a scandalous life. She was condemned to spend four days in prison and then leave the city of Quebec. On the 15th and 18th of September of the following year, she was again taken to court and told to leave the city or go to prison. Widowed, she made and annulled a marriage contract with Jean Berau before the notary Chambalon, in Quebec, on 30 May 1694. She then married Salomon Leguillot. They made their marriage contract the 18th of November 1698, before the notary Basset at Montreal.
At Beaubassin (near the present Amherst N.S.)
At the age of 15, Michel Haché moved to Beaubassin to live on the seigneury of Michel LeNeuf de la Vallière. Rameau de Saint-Père writes in “Une Colonie Feodole”, “Among the engaged who were brought from Canada by M. de la Vallière, we find an active and intelligent young man named Haché-Gallant who was his business postman, his sergeant at arms and his man who he could trust”. Haché-Gallant’s education and upbringing which made him a remarkable men of that era, demonstrated that he must have been brought up in one of the notable families of the colony.
In Placide Gaudet’s written notes, we can read the following concerning Michel Haché: “Michel Haché-Gallant was born in 1662 and was brought up in Trois-Rivières by Lord Jacques LeNeuf de la Poterie, the father of Michel LeNeuf, Lord de la Vallière and Lord of Beaubassin.” When Michel LeNeuf went to reside with his wife and children in his manor on ‘de la Vallière Island (today Long’s Island), around 1676 or 1677, he brought the young Michel Haché, who was then 15 years old, with him, to be his servant/domestic. Very active, intelligent, he could read and write, he was extremely attached to his master. He used to accompany him in all his trips, whether on the land or on the sea.
It was later reported that Michel Haché was in a certain fight, and having fought like a lion, afterwards was given the surname of “Galant”. Whether this account is accurate is open to question, since while the name “Galland” was know in France in
the 1600s, while the names Haché and Larché were not.
Around 1687, when Mr. de la Vallière left his seineury to go and live in Quebec City, he gave Michel Haché a large portion of his lands in Beaubassin.
The first mention of Michel Haché‚ in Acadia, was in the Beaubassin religious census of 27 April 1682. He was a godfather at a baptism and was named Michel Larché (nickname Galant). Arché means justice agent and policeman. Michel having no family, the function name of Larché‚ would have been given to him.
In 1686 in the Beaubassin census, his name was still listed as Michel Larché, he was single, 22 years of age and lived with the Landlord of Beaubassin, Michel LeNeuf.
In the autumn of 1684, in his role as a justice agent and policeman, it was Michel Haché, 20 years old who arrested, under M. de la Vallière’s orders, Jean Campagna, who was accused of sorcery and more particularly to have caused by his evil deeds the death of many cattle. The proceedings were ended on 28 June 1685 with the release of Campagna.
Michel Haché‚ was married in 1690 to Anne Marie Claire Cormier, born about 1674 in Port Royal, Annapolis, Nova Scotia, who was then 16 years old, and the daughter of Thomas Cormier and Madeleine Girouard. Cormier was the “Militia Captain of the Beaubassin coast”. Michel and Anne’s marriage certificate has been lost. Censuses and religious records from the era permit a reconstruction of Haché’s family. There were 12 children, 7 boys and 5 girls. The following censuses, all from Beaubassin, provide the following details:
1693 Census: “Michel Haché‚ 30 years old, Anne Cormier 19 years old, Michel 1-1/2 years old, Joseph 2 months. They have 13 horned animals (presumably cattle or oxen), 10 sheep, 6 pigs”. In the margin reserved for the number of acres of land, it mentioned that this was a new piece of land, indicating that Haché‚ had recently acquired the land.
1698 Census: “Michel Haché‚ 36 years old, Anne Cormier 25 years old, Michel 7 years old, Joseph 5 years old, Marie 4 years old, Jean-Baptiste 2 years old. They have 12 horned animals, 12 sheep, 5 pigs and 13 acres worth of land”.
1700 Census: “Michel Haché‚ 38 years old, Anne Cormier 27 years old, Michel 9 years old, Joseph 7 years old, Marie 6 years old, Jean-Baptiste 4 years old, Charles 2 years old”.
1703 Census: “Michel Haché‚ said Galan (the first time in the censuses there is a mention of the surname. In French the “t” in Gallant is silent), his wife, 5 boys and 2 girls”.
1714 Census: “Michel Haché, Anne Cormier,: Joseph, Marie, Jean-Baptiste, Charles, Pierre, Anne, Marguerite, Francois, Madeleine, Jacques. Thomas Cormier’s widow resides with Michel Haché”.
Michel Haché was the godfather of Magdaleine Michelle Mercier, born and baptized 27 April 1682 at Beaubassin, Acadia. Magdaleine was the daughter of Pierre Mercier called Caudebec and Andree Martin. He was also the godfather of Angelique Giasson, baptized at Beaubassin on 27 October 1684. Angelique was the daughter of Dion Giasson and Marie Magdaleine Martin.
Michel Haché’s family consisted of the following children
Michel Haché, born in 1691 at Beaubassin, married at Grand Prée on 12 October 1711 to Madeleine Leblanc, daughter of Jacques Leblanc and Catherine Hébert. They had ten children.
Joseph Haché, born in 1693 at Beaubassin, married at Port-Royal on 27 febuary 1721 to Marie Gaudet, daughter of Pierre Gaudet and Cécile Mignault. The had nine children.
Marie Haché, born in 1694 at Beaubassin, married at Beaubassin on 27 November 1715 to François Poirier, son of Michel Poirier and Marie Boudrot. The had four children. Marie was married a second time, at Port la Joye on 31 October 1729 to René Rassicot, son of Jean Rassicot and Marguerite Crosnier. There were five children from this second marriage.
Jean-Baptiste Haché, born in 1696 at Beaubassin, married on 20 February 1719 at Beaubassin to Marie-Ange Gentil, born at Port Royal 18 February 1704, daughter of Elie Gentil and Cécile Martin. Jean-Baptiste and Marie-Ange had eleven children.
Charles Haché, born at Beaubassin in 1698, married 24 February ???? to Geneviève Lavergne, daughter of Pierre Lavergne and Anne Bernon. They had seven children.
Pierre Haché‚ born in 1700 at Beaubassin married in Port La Joye in 1725 to Cécile Lavergne, daughter of Pierre Lavergne and Anne Bernon. They had nine children.
Anne Haché, born in Beaubassin in 1702, married on 30 January 1719 to Joseph Pretieux, son of Joseph Pretieux and Anne Gautrot. They had six children.
Marguerite Haché, born in Beaubassin in 1705, married in 1725 to Pierre Jacquemin a carpenter. They had four children. Marguerite married a second time to Robert Ango, son of Robert Ango and Toinette Desroches. There were two children from this second marriage.
François Haché, born at Beaubassin in 1707, married at Port La Joye on 20 June 1735 to Anne Boudrot, daughter of François Boudrot and Ann Landry of Tracadie. They had fourteen children
Madeleine Haché, born at Beaubassin in 1709, married at Port La Joye 31 January 1733 to Pierre Duval, son of Jacques Duval and Renée Massin. They had seven children.
Jacques Haché, born at Beaubassin in 1712, married at Port La Joye 20 June 1735 to Josephte Boudrot, daughter of François Boudrot and Anne Landry. They had ten children.
Louise Haché, born at Beaubassin in 1715, married 20 June 1735 to Louis Belliveau, son of Jean Belliveau and Cécile Melancon. They had nine children.
Conditions in Acadia
The little Colony of Acadia grew from 40 inhabitants in 1640 to more than 400 in 1671 and to 1,406 by 1737. The settlers took advantage of large areas of rich soil found along the banks of rivers and streams.
Among the settlers were “sauniers” who were able to exploit the salt marshes of the seaside villages. There were others who drained the marshes by dyking. They were able to reclaim large areas of very fertile soil from the tidal waters of the Annapolis Basin, Minas Basin and Beaubassin. The farmers used a method which allowed the tidal waters to drain from the land, but which prevented the tide from reflooding the land. After the land had been dyked for two or three years the snow and rain would have flushed away the salt deposits, leaving land able to produce all the wheat, flax and vegetables the settlers required.
Life in Acadia was very rugged. There were few conveniences. The main method of transportation was by canoe along the rivers and streams of the area. The major possessions were family and rifles.
Men made all of the rustic furniture – tables, chairs, beds, cradles, sideboards and benches. They made the footwear for the whole family, either the wooden shoes of their French ancestors or Indian moccasins, which were more suitable to the cold winters. They also made their own farm implements, such as wooden plows, hoes and carts. A young man had to be able to make a wheel before he could consider getting married.
Before horses and oxen were imported, the mother had to pull the plow, while the father pushed the plow with one hand while holding his rifle with the other. There were some hostile natives about and packs of wolves were everywhere.
The days of toil were long. In the evening, after a dinner meal, the mother dipped string into wax to make candles. There was also spinning or weaving to do while the father was either making furniture or cutting wood. The father hunted animals for meat and their skins were used for clothing and to cover windows and floors for warmth in the cold winters. Large families were a necessity as the children would help in the many tasks. Close neighbors were almost non-existent.
From available descriptions, the Acadian home was constructed of square logs joined at the corners. The roof may have been made of birch bark, which could ward off ice and rain. The house was not usually large and contained one main room on the ground floor with a loft above it. There was a fireplace against one of the outside walls from which they got heat and cooked their meals.
Family activities took place on the ground floor where one corner was curtained off for the bed of the parents. Children slept in the loft which was also used to store grain and other items.
Changes at Beaubassin
On the 24th of September 1710, an English fleet with 3,400 soldiers entered Port-Royal harbour. On the 6th of October of that year, Port Royal was given to the English people and three years later the Ultrect treaty ceded the entire territory of old Acadia, to England. Cape-Breton and St-Jean Island (today Prince Edward Island) remained French property.
On the 28th of March 1715, in Beaubassin, the King of England was proclaimed, which meant that the inhabitants became British subjects. Michel Haché, father, and Michel Haché, son, were present and like many others, did not want to swear allegiance to England, so they decided to emigrate to Port La Joye.
Port La Joye
The colonization of Ile Saint-Jean was begun as a private venture by the Comte de St. Pierre, who had received conditional title to the island in 1719 from the Duke of Orleans, Regent of Louis XV. Previous attempts at settlement by Europeans had been limited and impermanent. On the 15th of April 1720, St. Pierre sent three ships with 300 people aboard from Rochefort, France, under the command of the Sieur de Gotteville, with farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, and 30 soldiers of the Compagnies de la marine for the colony. Four months later on the 23rd of August, the three ships arrived in Port la Joye harbour, situated on the southeast shore of present-day Charlottetown Harbour. The first French establishment on the St-Jean Island was to be founded, with Port La Joye as the administrative headquarters of the colony.
In accordance with a report dated 6 November 1721, from the Navy Department, there were 16 French and 4 Acadian families established on farms on long, narrow plots of land along a small stream at Port La Joye, raising cattle, sheep, and pigs and growing crops of grain and peas. Emigrants also came to the colony from New France. Michel Haché’s family were among those mentioned.
By 1725, the Compagnie de lle Saint-Jean was being assailed by its creditors in France, and most of the French settlers returned home. A map of the settlement in 1730 showed that many of the properties were taken over by the sons and married daughters of an early settler, Michel Haché.
After the failure of the Comte de St. Pierre’s venture, the remnants of his settlement were administrated by the Crown. In 1726, a company of 25-30 men of the Compagnie de la marine was sent from Louisbourg to protect the colony and re-establish a military post at Port La Joye. The size of the garrison remained essentially unchanged during the French years, and it proved little obstacle to invaders. In 1744, war broke out between Britain and France. The following year the great French fortress at Louisbourg fell to a force of New England militia. In the aftermath of that disaster, Port la Joye was abandoned by its inhabitants and garrison. A British force arriving on the island later that summer burned the buildings and left the village in ruins.
Four years later, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle returned the colony to the French crown. Port la Joye again became the military and administrative centre, but little of the farming community was re-established. A number of temporary wooden structures were built for the garrison on the site of the previous garrison. In 1755, Port La Joye became an important port of entry to the island for Arcadians fleeing from the mass-deportation from Acadia. Three years later, however, Port La Joye was itself used by the British as a base for the expulsion of Island Arcadians from the newly conquered territory, and the town’s history came to an end.
Since then, 200 years of farming have removed all traces of Port La Joye. It took an archaeological dig in 1987 to rediscover the site of Michel Haché’s home.
Michel Haché-Gallant at Port La Joye
Michel Haché-Gallant was in his late 50s when he left the fertile lands at Beaubassin to live at Port La Joye. By that time he had been married to Anne Cormier for 30 years and had 12 children. He brought Anne and four of their children with him to Ile Saint-Jean. Other children followed over the next eight years, establishing their own families in the colony.
Gallant’s property occupied a long, narrow strip along the east bank of the small stream beside the garrison. A 1734 sketch of Port La Joye shows three buildings on his land. Two of these buildings were dwellings, with pitched roofs, a central chimney, and doors facing the road to the garrison. The third building looked like a storehouse, with a hipped roof, a large central door, but without windows.
Immediately upon his arrival at Port La Joye, Gallant was appointed the harbour captain. His family was one of the most respected in the port, as he was well educated and held an important post.
The following extracts from “the document concerning the French colonization of the Saint-Jean Island” gave confirmation that Gallant was held as a man of trust and excellence by the government:
“I the undersigned, Captain of the La Joye harbour, commanding officer for the ship “La Miscoudine”, (contracted) to transport to Louisbourg in 1721, Mr. de Beaucour, the King’s Lieutenant to the Royal Island and all of the fisherman owners of the boats and ships confiscated by Mr. de Gotteville on St-Jean Island and other passengers totaling 33 people, certify that I have made the trip and it did not cost anything for me nor for my crew and no costs were incurred for the ship because we left this port with a four to five days food supply. We had to travel for a period of nine days due to heavy winds. Mr. de Beaucour provided the rations for every body until we got to Louisbourg and he paid for every expense I had to make whether it be for my crew or for the passengers. He also paid for the table he gave to me, for which gesture I felt very honoured, and he also paid for some other small expenditures I had to incur somewhere else.
Herewith signed this certificate in La Joye harbour this 13th July 1723.
(signed) Michel Haché”
“Today, 12th August 1727, we, Knights of the Military Order of St-Louis, Company Captain, Commanding Officer of the St-Jean Island,………….
having transported ourselves, accompanied by Mr. Michel Galand, carpenter and harbour resident, to examine the mast and the materials we could appropriate for the service of the King…………. in the presence of Charle Pinet and François Paris, Acadians and carpenters, who were there at the moment of the visit.
Herewith we have signed. De Pensens, Le Normant, Michel Haché‚ said Galan.”
Extract from a letter from Duchambon dated 2nd October 1737, from Louisbourg
“In respect for the residents, I will do my utmost possible to bring in as many people as I can because the actual residents of the La Joye Harbour are not worthy of mention with the exception of the Galans family who occupy four houses. There is almost nobody left, they have left or are leaving because they die from not having enough to eat and I cannot think of why we have chosen this place as the principal establishment since this is the part of the island where the land is fruitless and where fishing is no good. If it were good, we could have many people who could clear the land and without their help, we can’t do anything.”
Michel Haché-Gallant was apparently very practical-minded and liked clear-cut situations. The following document seem to support this.
Obligation to pay annual pension of 10 pounds for everyone of the children
“This 17th day of November 1736, in the presence of Father Angélique Collin, “Récolet” (a Franciscan monk) from the province of Bretagne, missionary and Chaplain for the King at La Joye harbour in the Saint-Jean Island, Québec bishopric, acting as the parish priest in this city/town, since there was no Notary to pass the act between Michel Haché and Anne Cormier his wife on the one part and his children on the other part, hereafter named Michel Haché, Joseph Haché, Marie Haché‚ spouse of René Rassicot, Baptiste Haché, Charles Haché, Pierre Haché, Marguerite Haché spouse of Pierre Jacquemin, François Haché, Jacques Haché, Louise Haché spouse of Louis Belliveau, Marie-Madeleine Haché spouse of Pierre Duval, who agree to the following: to be known that every above mentioned children agree and are compelled to give to everyone of their parents, their father and their mother, for the rest of their life, the sum of 10 pounds every year effective today.
They also relinquish their rights to the appropriation of their father’s and mother’s succession after their death. The father and/or the mother are free to give their property/goods/fortune forever to the child of their choice if they judge he/she deserve it. Herewith, the children who know how to write have signed in the presence of Phillipe Le Neuf, Knight, Lord de Beaubassin, ensign of a detached Navy company and in the presence of Charles Boudrot, Ship’s Captain of the Beaubassin’s Lord who signed as witnesses (signed) Michel Haché, Joseph Haché.”
“Once more, Michel Haché, his wife Anne Cormier and their children have agreed that if one of their parents dies, the children will only have to pay half of the 10 pounds to which they have agreed to above.
Herewith, they have signed as above: Michel Haché, Joseph Haché, Marques de René Rassicot, Baptiste Haché, Jacques Haché, Pierre Haché, Marguerite Haché-Jacquemin.”
Michel Haché-Gallant’s last signature in the Registry Office of St-Jean Island, was on the 3rd of march 1737, on the occasion of the baptism of Marguerite, daughter of Pierre, one of his sons.
Michel Haché-Gallant’s death
Michel Haché-Gallant died tragically when he fell through rotting ice on the North River, in April 1737, a treacherous season for travellers, and drowned. His body was not recovered until the 17th of July of that year.
Following is his burial certificate from the La Joye harbour register.
“On the 17 July 1737, I the undersigned have buried in this harbour cemetery the corpse of Michel Haché‚ said Galan, residing in this harbour whom has sunk at the mouth of the river “du Nord” this year on the 10th day of April and whom has not been found until this day.
Signed: Brother Angéligue Collin”
After Gallant’s death his widow rented rooms to officers of the garrison and, later rented the whole house to the family of a Lieutenant DeCoux. Anne Cormier probably moved in with one of her children on the Northeast (Hillsborough) River when her house was rented to Lieutenant DeCour. Her fate after the British takeover in 1745 is unknown. She was still alive on January 10th, 1739, when her daughter Marguerite married Robert Ango. She was buried at Port Lajoye.
In 1987 and 1988, an archaeological search for the remnants of Port la Joye was carried out by a team from the Canadian Parks Service.
The team located and excavated the site of the garrison. They found traces of temporary buildings constructed in 1749 for the new garrison, but were unable to locate the more substantial earlier buildings. Many items of interest, such as hand-wrought nails, musket balls and flints, were found. Bits of beautifully decorated, fine tableware that came from the potteries of Rouen in France, suggested the high status of the officers of the garrison. The excavating team’s task was made difficult by the farming carried out on the site over the previous 200 years.
The Gallant Property
In searching for the the Gallant home, a large anomaly, five meters across, was discovered through the use of a conductivity meter. When sod was stripped from an 8 meter square area over the anomaly, the dark outlines of a cellar and foundation trenches were evident. The cellar had been filled with loose loam, thrown in to allow farmers to plow. A layer of charcoal, marking the destruction of the house in 1745, separated the remains of the French occupation, from materials later used to fill the cellar. Within the charcoal layer a large number of hand-wrought nails were found. There was also about 1,000 pieces of window glass.
Among items found in the cellar were numerous fragile brass pins, probably intended for trade or tailoring. Lead bale seals, used to seal and identify the contents of parcels were also found. Three coins found in the cellar, were probably hoarded because of a scarcity of hard currency in the colony. A number of tools, included an auger bit, a chisel or caulking blade, and a saw-toothed blade, were among items found which suggested the self-sufficiency of Arcadian settlers, such as Gallant. There were scrap pieces of lead, copper, iron and bone which had apparently been worked and then discarded.
Bones found in the debris of the cellar indicate that while the families kept cattle and sheep, that more pigs were kept. There was also evidence of domestic chickens and geese. It was clear, too, that the house’s occupants fished for cod, bass and dogfish.
While the Acadian settler is popularly considered to have lived a meager existence, pieces of fine earthenware that speak of economic success were found in the cellar. There also were polychrome faience pitchers, bowls, and plates from Rouen, Brittany, France, even England. These items may have been the property of the officers renting the house. If, on the other hand, the belonged to Gallant, they must have served as prestige items, emphasizing his status in the community.
It was evident that the house itself, was a two-room, wood-frame structure, at least 9 by 10 meters in size, with a central chimney and a partial root cellar. Its wooden sill was apparently set directly into the ground. Considerable quantities of clay were found in broad patches around the cellar, suggesting the walls may have been plastered with earth. There was no evidence of roofing materials, but since salt-water marsh grasses were not available at Port La Joye, the roof was probably planked or shingled.
Monument at Rocky Point, near Fort Amherst, Charlottetown, PEI
The inscription on the above monument reads “First family of the white race permanently established in Prince Edward Island, ancestor of the Gallant families of Canada and the United States, arriving here at Port Lajoye in 1720.”
10 Febuary 1998
Extracted from: www.islandregister.com/