Clearbrook Credit Union (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)
The Clearbrook District Mennonite Savings Credit Union (CDM) was a financial institution created to serve the growing Mennonite population of Clearbrook (now west Abbotsford), British Columbia. After the early success of a number of Fraser Valley credit unions, discussions were held to assess the benefit a similar institution would have for the developing Clearbrook area. Following the guidance of experienced credit union members from nearby communities, Clearbrook District Mennonite Savings Credit Union was incorporated on 10 March 1958. Under its original bond, the credit union provided financial services exclusively to the Mennonite community.
CDM was founded by two key people: George Loewen and Jacob J. Klassen, former members of the East Chilliwack Credit Union who had recently moved to the Clearbrook area. During CDM’s founding in 1958, Loewen was named the credit union’s first general manager, with Klassen named chairman of the board.
The credit union quickly prospered. In 1969, 11 years after its founding, CDM had nearly reached 1,300 members. By 1974, just five years later, that number had more than doubled to over 3,200 members. As CDM began to succeed and evolve, the influence of Klassen and Loewen, as well as later executives such as Peter Wiebe and John Hill, instilled the credit union with community-first principles that ensured its original mandate to serve its members would not be forgotten.
As non-Mennonite community members began to recognize the service being provided to the Clearbrook community, CDM was challenged to change to a community bond, which would allow anyone in the Clearbrook region to join the credit union. At the same time, the Abbotsford-based Mount Lehman Credit Union had approached CDM and proposed a merger. In preparation, CDM publically changed its name to Clearbrook Credit Union in 1970 and its bond to common, allowing non-Mennonite community members to join for the first time. Though the potential merger fell through, the name and bond change allowed the credit union to provide service to a growing constituency in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley while still maintaining its local priority.
Following the name change, the Clearbrook Credit Union enjoyed more than a decade of successful operations in the Fraser Valley. The credit union’s community commitment provided a popular alternative to area banks. Clearbrook Credit Union’s assets grew rapidly, increasing from $8 million in 1974, to more than $50 million in 1982.
However, British Columbia experienced a serious economic recession in the early 1980s. Faced with economic hardships and higher defaults on loans, credit unions throughout the Fraser Valley met to discuss possible mergers. Though many institutions felt that mergers would negatively impact their existing member base, Clearbrook Credit Union found common ground with another credit union with similar philosophical and cultural roots – East Chilliwack Credit Union.
Both credit unions shared a background of service to local agricultural and Mennonite communities, and a merger proposition was accepted and endorsed in 1982. On 1 January 1983, Clearbrook Credit Union and East Chilliwack Credit Union came together under the name First Heritage Savings Credit Union. With the successful merger, First Heritage was able to provide service throughout the Fraser Valley. According to Clearbrook Credit Union board member Sam Shartner, the creation of First Heritage "was a marriage of two credit unions that were founded on the same thinking patterns, the same philosophy, and it worked very well."
For nearly two decades, First Heritage served a member base of over 60,000 with credit union branches spanning the BC Fraser Valley. Through another merger in 2001, First Heritage joined with Delta Credit Union to become Envision Credit Union. In 2010, Envision Credit Union merged with Penticton-based Valley First Credit Union, though both organizations continued to operate as divisions of the newly created First West Credit Union. In 2011, Envision Financial provided service to the Fraser Valley community through 21 branches and 20 insurance offices.
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MLA style: Dau, Ron. "Clearbrook Credit Union (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2011. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/clearbrook_credit_union_abbotsford_british_columbia_canada.
APA style: Dau, Ron. (May 2011). Clearbrook Credit Union (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/clearbrook_credit_union_abbotsford_british_columbia_canada.