Governor of Plaisance, 1685-1690
Antoine Parat, a former fire-ship captain, became governor of Plaisance (Placentia) on June 2,
1685. A census conducted by Parat upon his arrival revealed more than 600 people in Plaisance
and adjacent ports. Facing lamentable economic and military conditions, Parat requested a larger
garrison and means to repair the fort. However, he received a detachment of a mere 25 soldiers
headed by Louis de Pastour de Costebelle.
Because of the less-than-satisfactory military conditions, Parat judged it wise to remain on
friendly terms with the British, even though English Protestant families would not be permitted to
settle in Plaisance. Disputes continued with fishing admirals, and in 1689 he fell out with the
bishop of Québec and some recently arrived Recollect Fathers over the use of shore space for a
monastery. As before, abuse was common. Parat had apparently imposed a corvée, a day of
work without pay, for the construction of a house in which he would live with the wife of one of
the fishermen. Even his chaplain had reportedly taken up with a local woman.
Despite a warning from the king, Parat's corrupt activities increased. He was suspected of
trafficking in food and munitions and severely criticized for surrendering Plaisance to a group of
English buccaneers from Ferryland in February of 1690. They tortured him and held the
inhabitants captive for six weeks. Following his release, Parat asked to be recalled, referring to
Newfoundland as "the most wretched country on Earth," and was replaced by Jacques-François
de Mombeton de Brouillan, who was supposed to take over his duties on June 1, 1690.
However, Brouillan was delayed and Parat remained in charge of the colony until he decided to
abandon it two months later. Because of the Parat's hasty exit and Brouillan's delay in arriving,
the settlement was left to Louis de Pastour de Costebelle, the military commander.
During his stay in Plaisance, Parat managed to quarrel with the inhabitants, the Basques, the
English and Costebelle, and he is noted as being the only governor to surrender the colony. He
died March 8, 1696.
<< Previous Governor |
Next Governor >>