May 31st 1945 is a very important date for the Caisse Populaire StePhilomène de Bonfield limited. In fact it is on that day that the Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Thomas Laird Kennedy signed charter #247, which recognized the Caisse as a financial institution.
Father J.J.de Bont was responsible for the event. Father J.J.de Bont, of European descent, was the parish priest. He understood the importance and the benefits a cooperative financial institution could bring to its community. Cooperatives of all sorts were founded everywhere in Europe. He was convinced parishioners would benefit from this initiative and would agree with the idea.
In fact, residents realized that this would be an opportunity to become financially sufficient, better serve the community and its people. They would gain access to financial help in their community and manage their interests.
The first Board of Directors was chaired by Philippe Boissonneault. JamesThibeault was the first director. The first client to buy shares and become a member was Omer Thibeault.
As it was common in most Caisses Populaires at that time, transactions were done at the general manager’s house. This meant that every time a new general manager was hired, books had to be moved. Many supporting historical documents were lost over the years, which made it difficult to follow the events that unfolded through the years.
However, upon speaking with Mr. Roland Larivière, Mr. Lionel Amyotte and Mr. Eugene Foisy, three founders of the Caisse Populaire, we learned that in the early 1950’s, Father Hector Rochefort proceeded to completely reorganize the Caisse.
Members were losing interest and it became less pressing to build something worthwhile. Life had to be brought back into the Caisse and it had to be done quickly. With the help of a few people, Father Rochefort began the rebuilding process.
Eugène Foisy was named the general manager and Lionel Amyotte and Roland Larivière, directors. Their determination and belief in the cooperative movement gave the Caisse a second chance.
Two other people played key roles in the restructuring of the Caisse: Mr. J. Omer Legault and Mr. Richard Filion. Mr. Larivière describes them as ‘giants of cooperation’ because according to him, their advice, their technical support and their countless hours of hard work readjusting the books, allowed for a smooth transition. A commemorative plaque honouring Mr. Legault remains exposed at the Caisse.
In 1956, Mr. Wilfred Joseph Labelle was Chairman of the Board of Directors and Mr. Eugène Foisy, who was secretary, seconded him.
In 1960, an initiative was put forward in collaboration with the Young Christian Workers Group. This group of young workers founded a Caisse and created a savings club and a savings account for wedding expenses. They brought their initiative in the local school with the savings program meant for children. The directors truly believed in developing a strong sense and desire to save amongst their younger population.
In April of 1969, the Caisse’s name changed to Caisse Populaire de Bonfield Limitée.
During the early 1970’s, while Mr. Roland Larivière was chairman of the Board, Mrs. Noëlla Shank was the only employee of the Caisse. She saw to it that everyone was served in a very caring manner. She represented well what the “raisons d’être” of all Caisses Populaires should be. During that time, the Caisse found its home at the Bonfield Parish Hall. A few years later it moved and established itself in a classroom in the old Ste-Jeanne d’Arc school.
From that moment on, the Caisse grew at a very quick pace. Personnel grew to two full time employees and two part time employees. When the first million-dollar milestone was reached in 1978, Mr. Richard Amyotte was general manager of the Caisse and Mr. Richard Beaudoin was chairman of the board.
In the 1980’s, the Caisse was located in the old school. It was then purchased and offices and working spaces were built to accommodate the growing needs of the Caisse. To this day, the Caisse is still operating from this location.
The Caisse continues to be involved in its community. Employees and members of the Board are an intricate part of the different groups and community events.
Because of the perseverance of all the members of the board and the ongoing commitment of the employees throughout the years, the Caisse continues to be strong and proud of its history.