Rob Ferguson, an archaeologist with Parks Canada, set out 141 years later, in 1999, to find the original site of Havre Saint-Pierre.
Though the area was known to be the location of an early French settlement previous to British occupation, 200 years of the farmer’s plough had removed all traces, and neither surface features nor air photographs revealed any clues to the location.
With the help of remote sensing, local folklore and a 1764 British survey map discovered in Charlottetown by archaeologist Scott Buchanan, Ferguson and his colleagues located three of the nine original Oudy homes, including a rich French midden (refuse pile) discovered beneath the remains of a British cellar, believed to be from the home of the original patriarch Jacques Oudy and his family.
Excavations have unearthed from the three French homesites the remains of a blacksmith forge, rarely seen Chinese porcelain, shards of brightly glazed green ceramic bowls from the Saintonge area of France and a number of seed samples.
Scientific examination of the seed samples has revealed some startling information -the presence of a fungus known as sclerota of ergot, commonly found in rye, known to cause convulsions, hallucinations and gangrene.
The Gallant ancestral properties, on the southwest side of Charlottetown Harbour, today form part of the Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site.
Ferguson’s archaeological excavations here, examining the period from 1720 to 1758, have revealed fine kitchenware and fancy ceramics from Germany, Britain and Italy, evidence that the affluent Gallant provided well for his family.
Fortunately, Gallant’s family survived the deportation, and Gallant would have been proud to know that his descendants were on hand to mark the 250th anniversary of the Acadian expulsion in 2005.
Unlike the Gallants, the farming Oudy clan seems to have vanished from the historical record. During the expulsion of Acadians from Île Saint-Jean in 1758, it is believed the entire Oudy clan boarded the ill-fated La Violet for the voyage to France, perishing when the ship went down in the Atlantic.
Despite exhaustive searches of Canadian, French and genealogical records by Ferguson and his colleagues, all that remains of the extended Oudy family are archaeological traces in the rich soils of Prince Edward Island.