Caisse populaire Mural
237 Montreal Road. Artist: Karole Marois (2004)
The artist has used this mural to depict the history of Eastview’s Caisse populaire (credit union). Established in 1944 in the basement of the church of Marie-Médiatrice, it was later transferred to the community centre, before finally moving into its own building in 1960. It is now called Caisse Trillium.
What is a Caisse populaire?
On the basis of his own observations of difficult social and economic conditions at the end of the nineteenth century, and using European savings and loans companies and credit unions as models, Alphonse Desjardins conceived the idea of organizing credit for people on the basis of their own savings. In other words, by bringing together individual savings, there would eventually be a credit reserve available to all the members.
Back then, the only clients of regular banks were merchants, mill owners and rich people. When ordinary people wished to borrow money, they had to deal with lenders who charged usurious rates, so that their financial situation was made even more difficult.
The number of caisses populaires increased fairly rapidly thanks to the support of the clergy. When Desjardins died on October 31, 1920, there were 220 caisses populaires, most of them being located in Quebec, with others in Ontario as well as a few in the United States.