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Antoine Parat
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.

August, 2000.

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