Caisse Portugaise Desjardins
Founded in 1969
4244 St. Laurent Boulevard, Montreal
The Caisse is like the lighthouse of our community. It’s that institution that is here to help the Portuguese community – Jacinta Amâncio.
Portuguese credit unions emerged in Montreal and Toronto in the 1960s to meet the financial needs of the immigrants, who had little credit with and linguistic difficulties accessing mainstream banks. They became important sources of financing for the business, organizational and cultural life of Portuguese communities, and for handling remittances to Portugal. The Caisse Portugaise Desjardins of Montreal, founded in 1969, is one of the most successful of these institutions.
Originally called the Caixa Económica dos Portugueses of Montreal, this credit union was founded in January 1969 to meet the financial needs of new immigrants, who had no credit with mainstream banks and faced linguistic challenges accessing their services. The idea for the credit union developed from an original plan to create a housing cooperative, conceived by the anarchist typographer José Neves Rodrigues. Initial efforts to convince the Portuguese community to invest in this new bank were largely unsuccessful, until the Micaelense Celestino Andrade led a fundraising campaign in 1971 and convinced the predominantly Azorean community to entrust him with their savings. By 1978, the Caisse’s funds grew from $21,300 to $6 million. Two years later, it had enough money to build a two-storey building on Saint-Laurent Boulevard.
The Caisse grew into a major source of financing for Portuguese community businesses, non-profit organizations, and civic and cultural life in Montreal. For instance, in 2016, when the credit union had over $205 million in assets, it offered seventeen scholarships to Portuguese-Canadian students in all educational levels. The Caisse’s is also the main channel for remittances to Portugal in Montreal.
Hora dos Portugueses