OTTAWA, Canada (6/22/09)--Alphonse Desjardins, the driving force behind Canada’s credit union movement, has been named history’s “Greatest Canadian Cooperator” after an online vote of more than 8,000 people in Canada. The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) announced the winner in Ottawa Thursday, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Canada’s organized national cooperative movement (Canada Newswire June 19). “There are few individuals who have contributed more to the global credit union movement and especially North American credit unions than Alphonse Desjardins,” Pete Crear, president/CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions, told News Now. “It’s not surprising he would be chosen as Canada’s top cooperator. It’s an honor that only begins to touch the many contributions he has made.” Desjardins, who died in 1920, was one of 14 pioneers of the Canadian cooperative movement nominated for the award. All 14 were inducted into the virtual Canadian Cooperative Hall of Fame, which was launched at Thursday's event. Desjardins was the founder of Canada’s sixth-largest financial institution--Desjardins Group. It is also the largest cooperative organization of any kind in Canada, based on turnover, and the 33rd largest cooperative in the world. Desjardins, born to impoverished parents in 1854, established North America’s first cooperative savings and loan society--a caisse populaire, or “people's bank”-- in Lévis, Quebec, in 1900 as an alternative to commercial banks that charged exorbitant interest rates to farmers and workers. His example inspired the creation of credit unions across Canada and the U.S., CCA said. America’s credit union movement is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its first credit union this year.