Alphonse Desjardins, journalist, parliamentary reporter, founder of the CAISSE POPULAIRE
(b at Lévis, Canada E 5 Nov 1854; d there 31 Oct 1920). Desjardins was 46 and French-language reporter for Hansard
when on 6 December 1900 he founded the first Caisse populaire, or people's bank, in Lévis. In promoting the doctrine of co-operation, Desjardins's goals were to fight usury, to improve the lot of the working classes, to bring economic liberation to French Canadians and to slow their exodus to the US. The Caisse populaire was the fruit of 3 years' study, discussion and assiduous correspondence with the great advocates of mutualism and economic co-operation in Québec and Europe. His was an original synthesis, a true "plum pudding" composed of foreign elements but adapted to local conditions. Desjardins was responsible for everything. He ran the Caisse in Lévis, saw to the establishment of 205 other Caisses in Québec, the rest of Canada and the US and, with solid support from the clergy, assured their success.
After 1916, illness forced him to abandon the taxing work of promotion and expansion. He devoted the last 4 years of his life to considering how to protect and guarantee the survival of his life's work. Death prevented him from realizing his plans for a federation of Caisse populaire centrale. His success won Desjardins an international reputation. Honours and requests poured in from all over Europe, the US, Latin America and even from New Zealand. He acknowledged that the custom, which caught on after 1913, of calling the new institutions "Caisses populaires Desjardins" gave him the most pleasure of all.
In promoting co-operation, Desjardins's goals were to fight usury, to improve the lot of the working classes and to bring economic liberation to French Canadians (courtesy La Société historique Alphonse Desjardins).
Links to Other Sites
This website highlights the wide range of financial services and community programs offered by Canada’s first caisse populaire. Also provides information about various corporate divisions and details the growth of the Desjardins Group from its inception to the present day.
Face to Face: The Canadian Personalities Hall
"Face to Face" features outstanding Canadians whose ideas and contributions have transformed this country. Click on the photos in "Meet the Personalities" to see their biographies. From the Canadian Museum of Civilization.