Following Spain’s example, other European countries began to claim lands in the Americas.
In 1534, Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River. For France, he claimed land in what is now Canada. Cartier was one of the first Europeans to trade for furs with Native Americans. Fur was in great demand in Europe. Beaver furs, which could be made into waterproof hats, were especially valuable.
The French went on to become early leaders in the North American fur trade. The Native Americans did most of the trapping. The French made sure they were on good terms with the natives. Samuel de Champlain led the French to ally with the Wyandot (or Huron) people, the Algonquins, and other Native American groups.