In the 1600s and 1700s, furs from North America were in great demand in Europe.
Beaver pelts were used in men’s hats, and fur trading became a highly profitable industry. As the Spanish had been drawn south, the lure of riches, this time in the fur trade, drew young Frenchmen to brave the wilderness of North America.
While many were motivated by greed, others wished to save souls. Beginning in 1611, French Catholic Jesuit priests ventured deep into North America, building churches and converting Indian tribes to Christianity.
Many suffered incredible privation, torture, and death for their faith. These twin motives, profit and souls, drove the early exploration of French North America.