When Europeans arrived, Tadoussac was already an important trading centre for Indigenous peoples of the north and south shores of the St. Lawrence River. By the mid-16th century, this activity had attracted European traders. Pierre Chauvin, a French naval and military captain, tried in vain to establish a colony at Tadoussac in 1600. In 1603, Samuel de Champlain and Chief Anadabijou built an alliance, the first of its kind between Europeans and the Innu. Tadoussac was captured by Sir David Kirke in 1628, but was later returned to France. A major fur-trading centre from the 17th century on, Tadoussac gained a new and lasting role in the 19th century as a centre for forestry and tourism.
Pierre Chauvin's trading post has been reconstructed and is open to visitors from mid-May to mid-October. One of the oldest wooden chapels in North America, built in 1647, is also located in Tadoussac.
Tadoussac is well known as the central point of Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and as the southern end of the parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay. An interpretation centre on marine mammals and whale-watching cruises also attract tourists.