Médard Chouart, sieur des Groseilliers, is set out by the French Crown to encourage western Native nations to bring their furs directly to Montreal. His success shows that French agents in the interior can garantee the supply of beaver pelts. This would later lead French authorities to send explorers such as Charles Albanel, Jacques Marquette, François Dollier de Casson, and René de Bréhaut de Galinée to find trade routes and develop religious missions in the Great Lakes and Hudson bay drainage systems.
The Domaine du Roi is established in what is now the central portion of the province of Québec. This was an area leased to an individual or company who enjoyed exclusive fur trading rights within it for a defined period of time. It was enlarged in 1658 and 1733. After the conquest of New France in 1763, it became the British King's Domain and continued to operate in the same manner until 1860, when the lease of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) was terminated.
With the expansion of the French fur trade, Ottawa and Montagnais canoeists are increasingly replaced by French-Canadian coureurs des bois, or unlicensed trappers, who contact Native people, exchange European goods and transport pelts back to Montreal.
Frenchmen Pierre Radisson and Médard Chouart, sieur des Groseilliers, make an unlicensed trip into the interior. They build a trading post at Chequamagon bay on Lake Superior and claim to have found a portage into the west. They spend the winter in the region south of Lake Superior among Huron, Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Dakota Indians. The lack of French interest in Hudson bay, coupled with a vigorous ambition by the English Crown, would eventually lead to the creation of the Hudson's Bay Company.
New France becomes a territory governed like all French provinces, with its own Intendant and Crown representative. Under Jean Talon, efforts are made to increase settlement and strengten the economy. The various fur trade companies holding monopolies disappear and a new regime of colonization is instituted.
A group of English aristocrats and merchants, inspired by the travels of Radisson and des Grosseilliers, induce England's Charles II to grant them the privilege of exploiting the furs of Hudson bay. As a result, the HBC is chartered. The French dispute the British claim and try to prevent the company from establishing trading posts on the coast of the bay.
Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet reach the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The rivers they use would later become the major transportation route to the western trading regions.
Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Luth, reaches the interior of Minnesota. He returns to Lake Superior, travels up the northwest shore and builts a post on the Kaministiquia River. The city of Duluth, Minnesota, was named after this Montrealer in 1856.
French authorities estimate that close to 500 men are trading in the West. Fierce competition has developped among trappers and merchants. Many have great difficulty recovering debts from coureurs des bois and are eliminated after a few years.
To put an end to the disorder in the French fur trade, the Compagnie des Indes Occidentales, the colonial authorities, and the most powerful merchants join forces and propose important changes. After this date, the company deals only with established traders, while the government issues special permits to trade in the West. All canoes are to be registered and the colony's troops are to police the trade. The coureurs des bois become outlawed.
After having signed a peace treaty with Miami and Illinois Indians to resist the expansion of the English-backed Iroquois, Robert Cavalier de La Salle lands on the coast of Texas. This opens the way for French trade in the lower Mississippi and the establishment of colonies in that region.
Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d'Iberville, is placed in charge of an expedition against the English in Hudson bay. From 1689 to 1697, Iberville would capture English ships, several HBC trading posts (Fort Severn, Fort Nelson) as well as British settlements in Acadia.
As a result of French legislation, the coureurs des bois are gradually replaced by trade permit-holding employees called "engagés" or "voyageurs". The vast majority of these are wage labourers who contract with a merchant to transport goods and furs to and from posts in the West.
Henry Kelsey is the first to travel far inland from the posts of the HBC. His trek leads him as far as northern Saskatchewan.
New France closes all its western fur posts. Trade in the region is officially closed for 20 years. Illegal traders keep up their operations.