Born in Québec, he is considered the pioneer of cooperative credit experience in Canada,on the model by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen.
The Caisse Populaire de Lévis was created in 1900, thanks to him and to his wife Dorimene Desjardins and it gradually expanded its activity in the whole Québec.
His experience at the Parliament, moreover, enabled the drafting of a legislation on cooperative matters for Canada. Desjardins contributed as well to the creation of the first credit cooperative experience of the United States, the St. Mary’s Credit Cooperative Association a Manchester in New Hampshire.
He affirms: “The caisse populaire is truly an organization of the parish. It was born, nourished and developed in the midst of the parochial family, and that is where it thrives. The parish is its natural birthplace, the focus of its activities. It must not extend beyond those limits. Economically speaking, it is, in a word, the extension of the parish”.
The Desjardins group is still active to date and it is the biggest federation of credit unions of North America (www.desjardins.com) and it also includes several museum proposals and archives for spreading the history of the founders and of the cooperative mindset.
One of his main works:
The Cooperative People's Bank: La Caisse Populaire, (Classic Reprint), 2017
• Prouche, Alphonse Desjardins: The Feat of a Founder. Lévis, Québec, 1994.
• Rudin, Ronald. In Whose interest?: Quebec's Caisses Populaires 1900-1945. McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal, 1990.
• Monique F. Leroux, Alphonse Desjardins: le pouvoir d'agir: Citations sur la pertinence du modèle coopératif, Éditions Dorimène, Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec, 2012
• Monique F. Leroux, Alphonse Desjardins: A Vision for Today's World: Quotations on the Amazing Power of Cooperatives, Éditions Dorimène, Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec, 2012