Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 32 > Page 7 - With Alex John Boudreau, Cheticamp Island

Page 7 - With Alex John Boudreau, Cheticamp Island

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1982/8/1 (317 reads)

had any resistance from anybody. Except a lot of people were incredulous. They didn't believe it would work. One, because there was no money available--where the hell are you going to get the money to found a credit union? Now, that was the on? ly resistance we had. (It wasn't resist? ance- -it was common sense.) That's it. And, as a matter of fact, the first year was pretty discouraging. We had no office. We fiad one secretary-manager, and the office was open only on Sunday morning on the steps of the church, with a little table, and picking up 50 pieces. Deposits were ac? cepted from 5c up. So, a lot of the mem? bers- -we were getting quite a few members-- they came with 5o, lOC-. A quarter was a big deposit. And a dollar--oh lord--we cel? ebrated! (On the steps of the church?) Oh yes, oh yes. Everybody was there and every? body saw this man, Joe Chiasson, picking up the 5c pieces and lOc pieces. After a year, we had a few hundred dollars. Then we started giving credit. We had a credit committee. And the first meetings we had, the first requests, for loans, I remember, came from fishermen wanting $25, some as high as $50, to get their gear ready for fishing, I was on the first cred? it committee. And one of the first re? quests was from a fisherman who was pretty rough. He was one of the big fishermen, one of the good fishermen. But he drank a lot and he was very often in trouble. We had a fight in the credit committee--"He's not a good risk, so we can't afford to lend him $50." But he was a good fisherman, I knew that. I said, "Take a chance--this is what the credit union is for. We're here to build men, not only build institu? tions. Now, let's try it. If he fools us, it'll be a lesson for us. We'll have to be harder in the future. If he doesn't, then we'll know that we're doing something worthwhile," It was accepted. Signed the papers. And I told him, "If you don't re? pay this loan within three months, you'll be responsible for a hell of a lot of peo? ple who need credit and are not going to get it. Because you'll be the reason why the credit committee has lost confidence in the people of Cheticamp." He started fishing on the first of May--his first pay was on the first of June--they weren't paid every Friday like they are today. He had to wait until his lobster was sold and his returns came back. On the first of June, the afternoon, he came to the office of the credit union with this $50, plus the interest, proud as a peacock. Building men! That was in 1935. (You still have the same credit imion?) Oh yes, and it's now--I haven't the latest figures, but I think it's over 3 million. Assets of over 3 mil? lion. The same little credit union. Now, not long after we started the credit union, we decided that we'd like to have a cooperative store. It was founded in 1936. Mostly accidentally, because we didn't think we were ready, but we had to. I'll tell you why. Where the Co-op is now, there was a store there that had failed a few years before. An American company had a lien on the property and had seized the whole property. We were meeting, my group, as a study group. I could give you the names of the first members of that study group--Leo Cormier, William Lefort, Jef? frey Lefort, Joe T. Chiasson, Charlie De- veau, and occasionally Dr. Poirier, Anyway, we were studying, and we learned that that American company had an office in Halifax. (This was the kind of studying you did, you would actually do some research?) Oh yes. We had decided that it would be a good idea to have a proper store. So we were studying the prospects, how it could be done. So we enquired if they had paid their taxes on that property. They owed a- round $400 taxes. So I got in touch with the company. They said, "Pay the taxes and we'll send you the deed." More than that, "Our representative will be down to see you tomorrow from Halifax." Came down, 0- kay, it's a deal, I gave him what I had in my pocket. I said, "All right, here's $10, you give me a receipt, and this is an op? tion to buy." We had the property but no money. At that time in Cheticamp, it wasn't easy to find $400. I didn't have it. Don't forget that I was agricultural rep, and that was more than half my annual sal- ary--$400. Well, we continued our studies. We've got to find 20 men in Cheticamp who'll buy shares for $20 each. It took us all winter. Finally, we got 20. And we Tourist Brochures & Colour Printing A Specialty PRINTERS LIMITED 180 TOWNSEND STREET, SYDNEY, N.S. TELEPHONE (902) 564<8246 CampGill ri- Lighthouse Cape Breton Shopping Plaza Sydney River, Nova Scotia We have the Answer to AH your Lighting Needs! ?? dl' Parks Pares ?? 'r Canada Canada ALEXANDER GRAHAM NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK Open Daily Year Round Winter Schedule: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 3 MAJOR EXHIBIT AREAS: Bell the Man DCI I Bell the Experimenter ??-'*"??"*- Hydrofoil Hall - GUIDE SERVICE AVAILABLE Baddeck N.S. Canada
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