During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Indigenous peoples, while maintaining their traditional way of life, are gradually influenced by contacts with European fishermen and explorers.
During this period, whaling and cod fishing are major economic activities for the Europeans. The Atlantic coasts, from Newfoundland to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, are host to up to 500 ships in a single year.
However, the volume of whaling and the migration of the species leads to a scarcity of resources. Basque fishermen soon begin to compensate for the lack of whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary by fishing for cod.
The popularity of beaver felt hats and the low price of that fur in America create a high demand, which encourage fishermen to turn to the fur trade. They then increase the fur trading with the First Nations.
The influx of Europeans means the introduction of new commodities. The First Nations people are interested in copper pots, axes, knives and glass beads, which enrich their daily lives, but disrupt their traditional customs.
Hunters are now increasing their efforts to capture both beaver and moose to meet the growing demand from Europeans. As with iron objects, alcohol brings about profound shifts in the communities.
The prospect of establishing small permanent settlements leads to conflicts between Europeans and Indigenous peoples. Despite the hostility shown by the First Nations, Jacques Cartier erects the first cross in Gaspé in 1534.
Half a century later, various settlement attempts are made in New France. The shores of the Saguenay Fjord provide a strategic location for gatherings and trading. The Indigenous people deal with the highest bidders, and trade becomes very competitive among Europeans.
At the mouth of the Saguenay River, Champlain attends the Grande Tabagie of 1603, a celebratory gathering where people feast and smoke tobacco pipes after a military victory. Hundreds of Indigenous and Europeans gather and celebrate for several days.
This is when alliances and permanent settlements begin. Champlain and Chief Anadabijou form an alliance to fight the Iroquois in the south. They are supported by the Dutch. Chauvin, a merchant, obtains a monopoly on the fur trade and builds a trading post in 1600.