Created by working communities and union associations
The Canadian National railway and Canadian Pacific railway employees, for example, and the Montreal firefighters and police officers, founded their caisses in the 1940s. However, most of the caisses d'économie were created in Quebec in the 1960s. They were based on the model provided by their southern counterparts, the American credit unions. At the time of the Quiet Revolution, workers found it difficult to borrow from traditional financial institutions. With no homes, property, or capital, they had no collateral but their own ability to work. They were forced to turn to finance companies with very high interest rates for financing. Many workers were soon in serious debt.
In light of this situation, groups of workers, with the help of their unions or associations, created their own financial tool with one main method of saving: payroll deduction.
By putting aside a few dollars each week from their paychecks, the workers quickly gathered enough capital to provide services through financial service cooperatives, created, owned and managed by the members.
In 1962, the group caisses founded a French-speaking federation, the Fédération des caisses d'économie du Québec, and 17 years later, in 1979, they joined Desjardins Group.
In 2001, they merged with the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec, gathering within the Group Caisses Executive Division.
In Quebec, Alphonse Desjardins