THE UNHAPPY ADMINISTRATION OF LA BARRE
A great fire in Quebec. Project of war against the Indians. The Governor's interest in the fur trade. French canoes robbed by the Iroquois. Expedition against the Senecas. Irresolution and incompetence of La Barre. Distress at Camp La Famine. A humiliating peace. Indignation of the western tribes. Versailles's displeasure with La Barre. Tithes and cures. La Barre recalled.
A new governor, Joseph-Antoine Lefebvre, Sieur de La Barre, disembarked in Quebec at the end of September 1682, after a voyage of seventy-eight days. He was sixty years of age, and he was the first governor to bring his wife and children to Canada with him. La Barre had served in the Parlement of Paris, and occupied several posts as intendant. In every case, according to Colbert's report, he had displayed utter incompetence and had provoked the hatred of the people by his completely unrestrained conduct. In 1663, although quite unfitted "to command other men," he had been commissioned as a naval captain, and when later he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general and took part in a few naval engagements, he showed himself to be equally incapable as a sailor and as a fighter. It was this nonentity whom the King commissioned on May 1, 1682, as Governor of New France. 1
A new intendant arrived soon after the Governor. He was Jacques de Meulles, Grand Bailiff of Orléans, a man with a mind open to new ideas and capable of adapting such ideas to existing conditions. He came bearing a plan of expansion for the colony drawn up by the Court, but he found Quebec stunned by a catastrophe which would delay its realization. A fire in the Lower Town had destroyed fifty-five houses and the principal shops with all their stock. The Intendant's first task then was to repair the damage, a task in which he was helped by generous gifts of money