Seasons 9 and 10 of the Curse of Oak Island (COOI) make a big deal of the Duc d’Anville’s fairly disastrous 1746 naval expedition to Nova Scotia.  The COOI team speculate that the expedition might have been a cover for sending a great treasure to Oak Island and burying it in what became the Money Pit.

I will have more to say about the expedition and the stories that surround it in a future post. In the meantime, the Fairview Historical Society has a pretty comprehensive and informative post on the expedition and all the legends it spawned, including buried treasure (but not on Oak Island, and not the Ark of the Covenant).

In S10E03, the team presents the new possibility that an advance task force of two ships, the Aurore and the Castor (Dawn and Beaver) under the led by Commander Duvigneau would have been sent ahead of the main fleet to find Oak Island, prepare it, and perhaps even to bury the treasure itself.

Du Vignan’s letter

In support of this contention, the COOI team present a passage from a report Duvigneau submitted to the French Admiralty which they claim says: “I will not speak to anyone about this place. I am obliged to… …send my journal of navigation.”

This secret place about which Du Vignan will speak to no one, of course, is supposed to be Oak Island and the money pit.

Now, let’s look at what the letter actually says.

Including the partially cut off sentence at the top of the screen in one of the shots, the whole passage reads:

“…who ask for nothing better than to fall under French dominion.

I will not speak to anyone about this fact [or place, see below], but I have to warn you that it will be difficult to hide it from a great many people who know it. I send my navigation log. The frigate is beyond my expectations (or my hopes), she steers and goes well, especially at the closest [to the wind?], and if I had the advantage of commanding her, I find she carries sail well enough to take on canons of eight rather than six… ”

So how the COOI team get from this that there is a secret place and that Du Vignan is compelled (obliged) to sent his log, but that he is keeping secrets from the Admiralty?

The minor problem

Initially, I thought that they had misread the word “fais” (fact), but thanks to this redditor for pointing out that it is most likely “pais” (country, or region). Pais doesn’t fit the sentence quite as well, but looking at other p characters in the letter, especially in “parleray point”, it looks like a p.

If the word is fais, or fact, it refers to the previous paragraph’s statement that some unknown groups, persons, or settlements, would like to fall under French dominion. This could refer to any number of groups, European or Indigenous.

If the word is pais, or region, it could refer to the places where people want to switch allegiance, or to the place where the ships of the expedition are to assemble. All of this information, regardless of which word it is, would be important strategic information during a time of war, and none of it needs to involve Oak Island. Without seeing the whole letter, it is unfortunately difficult to interpret this.

The major problem

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a charitable explanation for the second part of their “error.” The COOI team takes the first part of one sentence (highlighted red on the show), which ends with “I have to”, or “I am compelled to” (je suis obligé de), they skip the part to which this refers, and go straight to the beginning of the next sentence, which reads “I send my log”, and which has nothing to do with the compelling.

If you put the two highlighted sentence fragments together, they don’t even make grammatical sense. The compelling clearly refers to having to warn the admiralty of the information about groups seeking to change their political alignment or their alliances.

That’s very difficult to do by accident, and I would love to hear an explanation from the COOI team. I would also love to see the full letter, so I can get a better sense of the context.

I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this one is difficult to ignore. I must say, if an undergrad brought me a translation and textual reconstruction like that, I would not be amused. Taking fragments isolated from each other in the text and putting them together into a new sentence that has nothing to do with the writer’s intent is not the way to do it.

9 thoughts on “Oak Island Archaeology Update: An actual, accurate translation of the letter from the commander of the Castor and the Aurore

  1. Your critique of the (mis)translation and its use on COOI makes a lot of sense, and it’s not really possible that their interpretation is accurate. The word as written could possibly also be “frais” – as in a cost to be borne, or as something owed to someone. I’m not sure that makes sense, but the writing is difficult to make out and it looked like that could be what’s written. Either way, they are just making stuff up to feed the show’s ongoing narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The word is not ‘frais’ as suggested. One only needs to look at the other words starting with ‘f’ (francois, frigatte) compared to those starting with ‘p’ (personne, parloray) and it is clear that it is a ‘p’. It is ‘pais’ or a misspelling of ‘pays’ or ‘country’. It makes sense because it is people of a specific country (or nation) that want nothing better than to fall under French dominion. I think he refers to certain indigenous people.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are most kind in giving these inveterate liars and their production team from Prometheus Entertainment the benefit of the doubt. Considering the multitude of lies contained in just the opening narrative of each and every episode, these people have absolutely no shame and will ride this hoax into the sunset. There is absolutely no basis in fact, history or reason that anything of value was ever buried on Oak Island. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Andre.
    My 10 years on the topic suggests to me that Joe Scales, while not particularily polite, hits the “nail” on the head. I have gone from enthusiast to “bitter skeptic”.

    My schtick now is that persons I felt may have had some level of integrity when entering this enterprise have been completely seduced, won over, and are now trollish accoylites to prepetuate the myth of “treasure”. They have demeaned themselves into accepting checks and fame from the:

    Disney / History / Prometheus charlatans at the cost of truth for self serving gain.

    I find the entire enterprise now to be at the same pathetic level as “Ancient Aliens” liars and thieves that are happy to spread disinformation for profit.


  4. Hello,

    I did the translation of this document and at the time it was not presented in this manner. The red highlights were added post production and were never intended to be read in this way as it makes no sense at all. In the presentation we read the whole text (in French and English) and the highlights were obviously not added by a French-speaker at all.

    I would like to clarify that the intent of this presentation was not to suggest they came to Oak Island or that they buried anything. We were asked to see if the Anville expedition had anything to do with the happenings on the island and we presented answers to that question.

    For me, nothing points to a trip to Oak Island but they (Aurore) were in that general area for two months. The captain did write back that “he would not speak of the “region” to anyone, but he was obliged to warn the recipient that many people knew of that area and it would be hard to keep it secret, he adds that he is sending his journal”… In no way is it intended to be read as du Vignau being obliged to send his journal, that is misinterpreted by the highlights but not at all what was suggested by us.

    I hope this makes sense.


    1. Dear Charlotte,

      Thanks very much. This makes absolute sense and aligns with my reading as well. Please feel free to email me directly ( I would love to discuss further, and I have a couple of questions.


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