Pincher Creek Credit Union was established in 1944 to serve the financial needs of the people of the Pincher Creek community and surrounding areas. Many of the original records of the Credit Union were lost during a safe robbery at the Pincher Creek Co-op in the 1950’s. Following is an edited excerpt of an article on Pincher Creek Credit Union’s history written by Kurt Froese for the 50th anniversary of Pincher Creek Credit Union celebrated in 1994.
“Many cooperative organizations formed during the early part of this century were the product of social or economic hardship and dissatisfaction with existing conditions, but in Pincher Creek we just built on the co-operative spirit that was already there. During the Second World War, a local committee of concerned citizens ran our Victory Bond campaign. True to the spirit of our community, we always exceeded our quota in less time than most other areas.
In 1944, victory had been achieved in Europe and there was no longer a need to finance the war effort. Many Credit Unions were springing up across the country and the local Victory Committee felt that this type of financial institution would be an asset right here in our own community. The people that were most active in forming Pincher Creek Credit Union included Stan Pearson, a local plumber; Frank Frey, a service station operator; Pete Paterson, the Co-op Creamery Manager; Tom Hammond; M.D. Reeve; and Wilson McLeod, our local magistrate; among others.
Each family was asked to put $25.00 into the pot and, thus, Pincher Creek Credit Union was born and in business. For years, the maximum loan amount was $500, with most loans ranging between $50 and $100. The interest rate held steady at 6% per annum.
Because most of the original capital came from rural residents and most loans were made to wage earners, it seemed there was little incentive to grow. Operationally, it was a table-top procedure run at first out of Pearson’s Plumbing store, and later at the magistrate’s office. The size and availability of loans was dependent entirely on your reputation for honesty within the community.
In the last half of the 50’s, the financial climate changed so much that “finance companies” as they were then called, were getting most of the small loans because of their marketing schemes, even though their interest rates were exorbitant. In order to compete and stay in business, Pincher Creek Credit Union felt the need to change the interest rate structure to 1% on the unpaid balance. It took 3 presentations at annual meetings before the membership grudgingly allowed us to follow in the footsteps of the “loan sharks”. From then on, however, the operation became more successful and businesslike.
Pincher Creek Credit Union moved to new locations from time to time over the years. From the first location at Pearson Plumbing to Wilson’s magistrate’s office, to the Pincher Creek Co-op Office. Then, the Credit Union moved to the A.G.T building and Vern Gairns Insurance, the old Treasury Branch office and finally to our present location.
Because the Credit Union lost all of its early documents, a more accurate and detailed account of everything that has happened to this wonderful institution is not possible. The tradition of hard work and sacrifice established by the many people who were involved in the Credit Union’s ongoing growth over the years is still reflected by its Board and staff as they continue the tradition of service to the membership.”