According to Acadian genealogists and historians associated with the Prince Edward Island (PEI) genealogy website, The Island Register, little is known for certain about Michel Haché-Gallant’s birth and ancestry. The Honorable Bona Arsenault (a noteworthy Canadian historian and genealogist) and his colleague, Father Patrice Gallant (an expert on Gallant genealogy), extensively studied Michel’s origins and reached the same conclusion. Their analysis and interpretation of historical evidence is speculative, though, as the “documents examined could not give absolute proof” of Michel’s birthplace or parentage. The circumstantial facts discovered by Arsenault and Fr. Gallant in the archives of the Court of Justice in Quebec and in the life history of Nicholas Denys, revealed that Michel Larché, known in history by the name Michel Haché-Gallant, was born in about 1660 at St. Pierre, Acadia (present day St. Peters, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia). Michel is believed by authorities in Acadian history to be the son of Pierre Larché, who was born around 1640 in the French town of Montidier, bishop’s residence of Beauvais.
Michel’s baptismal documents, which still exist in the Quebec public records, state that he was baptized on April 24, 1668, when he was eight years old. There is also documentation stating that his father was a Frenchman and his mother was an Esquimo (but more likely was Mi’kmaq as there were no Eskimo in the Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, region of Canada).
Michel was married in 1690 to Anne Marie Claire Cormier, born about 1674 in Port Royal, Annapolis, Nova Scotia. Anne was the daughter of the “Militia Captain of the Beaubassin Coast,” Thomas Cormier and Marie-Madeleine Girouard. Michel and Anne’s marriage certificate has been lost; however, censuses and religious records from the era permit a reconstruction of Haché-Gallant family.
By 1720, England had completely colonized Acadia and the entire territory fell under British rule. Rather than swear allegiance to England and become a British subject, Michel Haché-Gallant left Beaubassin (present day Nova Scotia) and established Port La Joye, Ile St. Jean (Prince Edward Island). Michel used his sloop to ferry many French Acadian settlers from Fort Louisbourg to the island.
Immediately upon his arrival at Port La Joye (near present day Charlottetown), 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.
Haven’t spent most of his life in Beaubassin, Michel Haché-Gallant was in his late 50s when he eventually arrived at Port La Joye. By then, he and Anne Cormier had been married for 30 years and had 12 children. He brought Anne and four of the children with him to Ile Saint-Jean (PEI). Other children also emigrated over the next eight years, and they established 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 at Port La Joye (Fort Amherst). 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.
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 Gallant-Haché’s home.
On April 10, 1737, while attempting to rescue a stranded traveler, Michel Haché-Gallant fell through rotting ice on the North River and drowned. His body was not recovered until July 17th of that year. The following quotation is taken from his burial certificate in 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”
There is a monument to Michel Haché-Gallant and Anne Cormier at Rocky Point, near Fort Amherst, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
“Le Métis de Beaubassin,” is a romantic (not to be confused with romance) novel about Michel Haché-Gallant written in French by Melvin Gallant, who is best known for his cultural involvement in the Acadian community, including having been founding president of Éditions d’Acadie. Read more here.