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80 years: still different, still the same

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This week we celebrate a special day in the history of Servus Credit Union. On September 27, 1938, Mangan Credit Union became the first credit union chartered in Alberta under the new provincial Credit Union Act. From that beginning we can trace 80 years of independence from banks, shared economic benefits and an unmatched record of commitment to the well-being of members.

Life in Alberta was tough for much of the early 20th century. War, drought and depression crippled the economy, sending unemployment and bankruptcies incredibly high. Government efforts to stoke the economy were largely ineffective. Credit from eastern banks was only available at very high rates and not accessible to the Alberta farmers, tradespeople and labourers who made up most of the population.

With characteristic Alberta initiative and self-reliance, neighbours, parishioners and co-workers organized themselves to form credit unions – owned by them and operated for the benefit of all. By combining their savings, members created pools of credit they could borrow from for farm equipment, tools, health care, education and many other purposes. As their capital grew, credit unions became able to lend larger sums for homes.

From the earliest days, members shared in the success of their credit union. Records from as early as the 1940s show credit unions paid share dividends and cash patronage to members. Credit unions need to be profitable, but only enough for adequate capital and to invest in new member services. The rest we return to you.

Another practice that has continued since 1938 is our commitment to your financial fitness. While names and other aspects of the financial industry have changed dramatically, credit unions have always aimed to help members save, plan, borrow and spend wisely, so you feel good about your money. We have always understood that when people grow, Alberta grows and we all prosper.

Servus Credit Union is built on the foundation of approximately 130 credit unions established across Alberta. We continue to serve the province, with 102 branches in 59 communities. Approximately 2100 employees responsibly and securely manage $16.3 billion in member assets. Servus contributed $3.6 billion to Alberta's economy in 2017.

We are very proud to be the stewards of an 80 year tradition of service to members and to our province. Guided by our values and cooperative principles, we will continue to help individuals and businesses achieve greater financial fitness. We will continue to help build a better world in Alberta, and pass on our legacy of service to the next generation.

We want to better document our history and learn more about how Servus and its predecessor credit unions have played a significant role in the lives of individuals and the province. If you have information, stories or items that could help us know our history better, please contact Michael Dickinson at michael.dickinson@servus.ca.

John Lamb 
Chair, Board of Directors

Garth Warner
President and Chief Executive Officer

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