In the early days of the colony, fur-trading took place mainly in the St. Lawrence Valley, where Aboriginal people came to exchange their pelts for European goods. During the 1660s, because the Iroquois were preventing other Aboriginal peoples from bringing their furs to their French allies, a growing number of men known as coureurs des bois started travelling illegally into the West. In 1681, in an effort to control the fur trade, the authorities began issuing congés de traite [trading permits]. These were sold or given to favoured individuals, who generally resold them to a trader or went into partnership with one. By the end of the 17th century, the fur trade was a highly organized activity, and by no means accessible to all. It required capital, experience, and the legal right to trade. Generally speaking, a trading trip would unfold in the following way. A marchand équipeur [merchant-outfitter] based in Montréal would sell goods to a voyageur, who would travel to the West to exchange these goods with Aboriginal people for furs. A professional fur-trader, the voyageur would hire young men to assist on both the outward and return trip, navigating the waterways using birchbark canoes.

The Fur Trade
Commitment made by Pierre Papillon called Périgny, of Batiscan, to De Croisil and Jean-Baptiste Lecouste, to go to Michilimakinac, from the records of notary Jean-Baptiste Adhémar called Saint-Martin, May 29, 1731