The fur trade was a key part of Canada’s history and hundreds of people were involved in it from the late 1600s to the early 1800s. One way to research an ancestor who was a fur trader is to find the contracts he signed, contracts thwere generally prepared by notaries in Montreal, Quebec or Trois-Rivières.
The notaries who handled fur trade contracts in the 18th and 19th centuries were:
Louis Chaboillez – Montréal 1787-1813 – 9,346 bibliographical records
John Gerbrand Beek – Montréal 1781-1822 – 5,277 records
Jonathan Abraham Gray – Montréal 1796-1812 – 3,258 records
Jean-Baptiste Adhémar– Montréal 1714-1754 – 3,151 records
Louis-Claude Danré de Branzy – Montréal 1738-1760 – 2,784 records
François Simmonet – Montréal – 1737-1778 – 2,139 records
Joseph Desautels – Montréal 1810-1820 – 1,638 records
Antoine Foucher – Montréal – 1746-1800 – 1,056 records
Henry Griffin – Montréal 1812-1847 – 952 records
Pierre Panet de Méru – Montréal 1755-1778 – 824 records
François Leguay – Montréal 1770-1789 – 814 records
Nicolas Benjamin Doucet – Montréal 1804-1855 – 609 records
Henry Crebassa – Sorel 1795-1843 – 555 records
Joseph Cadet – Québec 1784-1800 – 276 records
Charles Claude Pratte – Trois-Rivières 1801-1817 – 236 records
Louis-Joseph Soupras – Montréal – 1762-1792 & 1809-1832 – 150 records
Pierre Ritchot – Montréal 1821-1831- 117 records
Joseph Gabrion – Montréal 1780-1804 – 54 records
Jean-Baptiste Desève – Montréal 1785-1805 – 15 records
One of the busiest of these notaries was Louis Chaboillez, who practiced in Montreal. Summaries of the more than 9000 fur trade contracts he handled can be found online on the website of the Societe historique de Saint-Boniface (SHSB) at http://archivesshsb.mb.ca/fr/list?q=Louis+Chaboillez&p=1&ps=20
The SHSB in Winnipeg has a special interest in the history of the fur trade and the people who were involved. You can learn more about the SHSB heritage center at http://shsb.mb.ca/en/about_us. This society can also help with genealogy research, especially if you have Metis ancestry. See http://shsb.mb.ca/en/Collections_and_Research.
Diane Wolford Sheppard of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan has done extensive research on the fur trade during the French Regime, especially in the Detroit region of Michigan, the Mississipi River in Illinois and the Green Bay region of Wisconsin. This includes Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinac Island & Mackinak County, Michigan) 1683-1754; Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit – Fort Détroit (Detroit, Michigan) 1701-1760; Fort de Chartres (Mississipi River in Illinois) 1718-1731; Bay of Sauks (Ouisconsin) — Fort Winnebago; (Green Bay, Wisconsin) 1640s-1763.
The notaries in New France who handled fur trade contracts for destinations in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin were:
Antoine Adhémar – Montréal 1668-1714 – Trois-Rivières 1668-1714
Claude Mauque – Québec 1674-1682 – Montréal 1677-1696
Hilaire Bourgine – Montréal 1685-1690
Pierre Raimbault – Montréal 1697-1727
Michel Lepailleur de Laferté – Québec 1700-1715 & Montréal 1701-1732
Jean-Baptiste Adhémar – Montréal 1714-1754
Henri Hiché – Québec – 1725-1736
François Simmonet – Montréal – 1737-1778
http://www.habitantheritage.org/french-canadian_resources/the_fur_trade This article on the website of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan links to a variety of resources about the fur trade in the 17th century.
http://habitantheritage.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Women_and_Their_World_-_for_website.275153906.pdf This article by Diane Wolford Sheppard lists some women who were involved in the fur trade or liquor trade in the 17th century.
http://habitantheritage.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Outdoor_Activities.27051652.pdf This article mentions the names of some of the men who were present in Detroit around 1715.
If you had an ancestor who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, take a look at this article from the Alberta Family History Society on researching family history at the archives of the HBC: http://afhs.ab.ca/aids/talks/notes_mar98.html. The Hudson’s Bay Company records are at the Manitoba Archives, https://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/.
Library and Archives Canada has many records of people who worked in the fur trade; for example, http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/genealogy/topics/employment/Pages/fur-trade.aspx
The McCord Museum in Montreal has records of the North West Company, one of the major players in the later years of the fur trade. Some of its photos and documents have been digitized; see http://collections.musee-mccord.qc.ca/scripts/search_results.php?keywords=North+West+Company&Lang=1
Notarial records including fur trade contracts from prior to 1800 can be found on the Parchemin database; see https://genealogyensemble.com/2017/01/01/finding-quebecs-early-notarial-records/
The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is slowly digitizing its collection of notarial documents, but most can be consulted on microfilm at the archives in Montreal and other branches across Quebec.
The Société de généalogie de Longueuil (http://www.sglongueuil.org/), just south of Montreal, also has an extensive collection of notarial records on microfilm; see http://www.sglongueuil.org/cadres/texte/greffes.html.