What’s In a Name?

Many Gallant family genealogists and Acadian historians have hypothesized about how our ancestor, Michel Haché-Gallant, came by his surname. No one knows for sure and there’s very little chance that the “truth” will ever be found, as there is no documentation nor are there first-hand accounts of his decision to adopt the name. There’s also no absolute proof of his lineage, but most subject authorities associate him as the son of Pierre Larché (also spelled Haché).

Listen to various pronunciations of Gallant here. (For what it’s worth, I pronounce it the same way that my father chose to.)

Here is one of the stories that attempts an explanation of the origin of the name:

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 “Galand” 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.

Source:  http://hache-gallant.com/hache-gallant/history.html

Note: Placide Gaudet was a Canadian historian, educator, genealogist and journalist. Read more about him here.

Who Do I Think I Am?

Here’s the truth: I have an obsession with the Ancestry.com website, as well as genealogy-themed TV shows like, “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Finding Your Roots.”  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is an amazing author, historian, and teacher, who has provided a great deal of inspiration to me during my search.  My hat is off to you, Dr. Gates!

When I first became interested in finding my own roots, I almost immediately got an Ancestry membership and found LOTS of information there that was helpful in the construction of my family tree. There are so many other members who are also cataloging their Gallant ancestry!  Drawing on other members’ trees, the hints (or leaves) that pop up whenever a new source is found,  and access to an extensive record of direct descendants of Michel Haché-Gallant, I was able to fill in quite a few blanks; however, if someone’s historical research doesn’t include multiple sources or citations, I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to do additional research to verify the records.

At some point, my tree will be completed, but there’s still work to do! In an effort to learn as many facts as possible, I’ve dug into Ancestry Academy and become a member of the Prince Edward Island Genealogical Society, as well as PEI Ancestry.com

After 2 or 3 years of off and on research, I had my DNA tested just to see what might be revealed there.  Here’s a graphic showing the results of my estimated ethnicity:


The DNA analysis didn’t reveal any surprises, but my research on Ancestry did, and that was that there have been a number of adoptions in my family’s history that make it impossible to discover true lineage. And that’s a pretty wonderful discovery in and of itself! More on that later…

Recently, Ancestry added the “Genetics Communities” feature, which shows (in my case) population concentrations of ancestors, as well as AncestryDNA members with whom I most likely share DNA. The only surprise was the intense cluster (shown in red) of relatives in Massachusettes.  On my way to Boston soon, so hopefully I’ll feel right at home.



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 ScotiaAnne 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.


Photo credit: MelvinGallant.com