Population of Plaisance

According to the first census of Plaisance (1671), the small number of original inhabitants came from the Île de Ré and La Rochelle. In 1685, Plaisance numbered 588 people, of whom 153 were residents (men, women and children) and 435 were seasonal fishermen. In 1698, about 40 families were living in the colony; with most of the women born there. Half of the beach concessions registered in 1698 were in the hands of the same owners in 1713.

French Gravestone, 1676.
This gravestone provides one source of evidence for the original location of the French church in Plaisance, for it was found on the site of the present day Anglican Church.

Photo by Edward Power. Reproduced by permission of Department of Education, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador ©1982.
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French Gravestone, 1676

In 1698, Plaisance had three districts - the fort area, with four habitations, a beach with room for 40 shallops, and a hospital near the lime kiln; the large beach area to the south of the narrows, with 25 habitations using about 100 shallops; and the Green Point area with five habitations and a beach with room for 20 shallops. The "habitations" were simply wooden cabins.

Settlement Map, 1713 Plan of French Settlement at Plaisance, 1713.
This plan show the location of French houses, fishing stages and other structures at the time of the transfer of Plaisance to the British.

Courtesy of the Documentary Art and Photography Division, National Archives of Canada.
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The growth of the resident population was slow. It increased from 74 people in 1671 to 119 in 1687, 205 in 1706, 225 in 1710, and 189 in 1711.

Permanent population of Plaisance 1671-1711

Years Heads of Family Women Boys Girls Other Children* Total
1671 29 17 8 15 5 74
1673 28 23 11 9 -- 71
1687 27 25 47 20 -- 119
1691 24 18 38 27 -- 107
1693 26 18 33 31 -- 108
1698 52 34 55 67 -- 208**
1704 50 26 36 46 -- 158
1705 53 34 53 52 -- 192
1706 61 32 57 55 -- 205
1710 62 54 31 23 43 248
1711 44 36*** 56 53 -- 189
Source: Archives d'outre-mer, G1 vol. 467 (Recensements de Plaisance)

* Gender not known.
** Three women and 11 children were in France at the time of the census.
*** Ten women were in France at the time of the census.

© 2000, Nicolas Landry


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