North American Credit Unions


Alphonse Desjardins, a Canadian parliamentary reporter founded the first successful credit union in Canada in 1900. It was known as people’s bank and situated in Lévis in the province of Québec

Then, the People’s Bank began with an initial total membership deposit of $26. A dime was the first individual savings deposit. After the favourable example in the French-speaking part of Canada, attempts in the English-speaking areas were made. However, most of them were not widespread or at all successful until the early 1940s. From then on, credit unions spread and were established all over Canada. These credit unions and peoples Bank now serve over 10 million customers.

The Canadian Alphonse Desjardins devoted his remaining life to the credit union development in North America. In 1908, he also founded the first American credit union, St. Mary’s Bank in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Furthermore, two Americans became the key figures of the American cooperative banking movement: Pierre Jay, the Massachusetts banking commissioner and Edward A. Filene, a Boston merchant. They studied credit unions in Europe and corresponded with Desjardins, resulting in the first state credit union act in the United States. Today, there around 6,000 credit unions in America with more than 100 million members.

For more on Candian Credit Union History Click HERE

Copyright British Credit Union Historical Society 2018 – All rights reserved

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