New Brunswick

History of Credit Unions in NB

Credit unions have been serving Canadians since 1900 and were established to respond to the needs of people in communities where access to traditional banks was limited. They boast a history rich in innovation and community service. Credit unions operate under the co-operative model, and business and governance decisions are guided by the seven co-operative principles. This distinction sets credit unions apart from other financial institutions.

The economic depression of the 1930s was a difficult time for the people of New Brunswick with unemployment reaching close to 40%. Businessmen in the urban areas had been severely impacted by the fall of the stock market. The rural communities were devastated by drought and frequent crop failures. Factories and sawmills were closing, due to lack of demand for their products. There was little access to credit and what little there was prior to the Great Depression was lost as the economy spiralled downward. These conditions provided fertile soil for Credit Unions.

In response to such challenges, the Antigonish Movement which began in Nova Scotia spread to other provinces in the region, including New Brunswick. Organizations such as the New Brunswick Union of Labour, the Trades and Labour Council, the Farmer’s and Dairyman’s Association, as well as fishermen associations led the movement in New Brunswick. Members of the clergy were also vocal in their support and viewed credit unions as an opportunity for “economic regeneration of their flocks”. By 1936 there were 200 study clubs operating in the province of New Brunswick and the legislature passed a credit union law the same year. In September 1936, the first credit union in the province of New Brunswick was started in Blackville by Rev. A.A. MacKinnon. The credit union was first named “St. Raphael’s Credit Union Society Ltd”. By 1939, there were 10,000 members participating in 95 credit unions and caisse populaires in New Brunswick.

As of April 28, 2023, there are 6 credit unions in New Brunswick serving more than 61,000 members.

NB Credit Unions:

Beaubear Credit Union
Blackville Credit Union
Brunswick Credit Union
NBTA Credit Union
OMISTA Credit Union
The Credit Union