A Short History of New Waterford Credit Union

  During the great depression it was difficult to find work in Canada, especially in New Waterford where the towns mining industry was hard hit. In the 1930’s the co-operative movement was just beginning to take hold in Atlantic Canada, and banks were still considered a place for rich men, they wanted 100% security. With no social programs in place at the time, the people of New Waterford held “Kitchen Meetings” in an attempt to solve their social problems.

    By 1933 there were 50 clubs in New Waterford that held kitchen meetings. These clubs welcomed the hope, support, and enthusiasm brought by Dr. Moses Coady. Dr. Coady was born in Margaree, and taught at St. Francis Xavier University. He often spoke of social justice for all, and group co-operation among common people. Dr. Coady was a teacher of all. His teachings played a big role in developing the frame work and ideas that Credit Unions in Atlantic Canada were founded upon. Dr. Coady, A.B. MacDonald, Alex S. MacIntyre and Fr. Jimmy Tompkins were leaders of the co-operative movement across the region.

     In New Waterford, local leaders soon emerged and founded New Waterford Credit Union on March 19th, 1934. Rannie J MacDonald (President), Peter G. MacKinnon, Frank Robertson, Simon Boudreau, Charles Hillier, Malcolm McLean, Michael Laffin, Cecil Lewis, Frank McNeil, Steve McNeil, Michael McNeil, and Alex McKinnon formed the credit unions first board of directors. New Waterford Credit Union opened for business on April 21st, 1934 at the No.12 Parish Hall and No.16 Colliery which ensured little inconvenience for miners. That day 148 members deposited a total of $533.50. Just over a week later the credit union started offering loans up to a maximum of $50 at an interest rate of 1% a month. It was quickly decided that rather than requiring 100% security on loans, only 50% would be required.

    Popularity and membership grew quickly and the credit unions operations could no longer be supported by the office on Frank Robertson’s property. By December 17th, 1934 a decision was reached to build a new office on Mahon St. At the same time the board decided it would be beneficial to join other credit unions in the province to form the Nova Scotia Credit Union League which acted as the nucleus for the Credit Union Movement in Nova Scotia. 

     The late 1930’s and 1940’s presented challenges for growth, but New Waterford Credit Union continued to build its business by supporting the community. In 1936 the Credit Union donated $50 (A lot of money at the time) to a co-operative library fund. A year later New Waterford’s first library opened and operated within the New Waterford Credit Union where it remained until 1964. When World War II began in 1939 the credit union created its successful Victory Bond Program to support war efforts. In 1941 the credit unions new building was ready for use. By 1946 the war was over, business began grow again, and the need for security resulted in the purchase of the credit unions first vault. In 1949 business was still growing and New Waterford Credit Union had $45,000 in share capital and had granted over $2,000,000 in loans since its founding. At the end of 1948 the credit union had successfully moved into its new office on Plummer Ave. where it remains today.  

    The 1950’s 60’s 70’s and 80’s brought great growth for New Waterford Credit Union. During this period there were many more changes in board and committee positions than there were in the early days of the credit union. The early 60’s were a tough time for the town’s mining industry, but membership still continued to grow. Adjustments had to be made to the types of loans offered and how accounts were handled in order to support the influx of new members. In 1965 membership reached 3200 people. During the same year the office on Plummer Ave. underwent their first major renovations.

    The 1970’s and 80’s presented many challenges for New Waterford Credit Union and its members. High interest rates and inflation made it difficult for members to maintain their standard of living. The situation was worsened by a miners strike in 1981. This situation drove up the demand for loans, so membership still grew by 118 people that year. No dividends could be paid in 1981, but payments soon resumed in 1982.

    The technological age was here by 1977 when the first computer terminals were installed. The technological age really took hold in 2005 when the first renovations since 1965 brought significant changes to the building including a dramatic facelift, a walk in vault, a side entrance, safety deposit boxes and a full service ATM.

     At the end of 2012 New Waterford credit union had 2474 members, 12 employees, 8 board members and 7 more committee members. A bursary program was started in 1972 for BEC students and continues to this day. In 2006 the credit union began its permanent art collection and art gallery to support local artists. An annual patronage rebate has been maintained for the past number years. Year after year the credit union continues to support many groups and organizations in the community. Included are: schools, students, libraries, sports teams, charities, fire departments, hospitals, clubs, and much more. New Waterford Credit Union has always prided itself as a community oriented organization. Its focus will always be supporting its members and the town ofNew Waterford.