In focus

Father Gustave Sauvé: militant figure in Ottawa’s co-operative movement

A committed intellectual, Oblate and man of action, Father Gustave Sauvé is one of the keenest promoters of cooperative ideals in Ottawa and elsewhere in French Ontario. During his 1944 to 1961 term as secretary of the Association canadienne-française d”éducation d’Ontario (ACFÉO), the organization experiences a marked resurgence of economic patriotism and creates over 70 credit unions.

Father Sauvé makes his debut at the University of Ottawa’s brand new School of Political Studies, founded in 1936, serving as its first director. The unit, which becomes the School of Political Science in 1939, includes various sections: diplomatic, social, commercial and financial, among others. Father Sauvé creates the Cercle social in 1940 to promote the theory of cooperation. The Cercle’s existence is brief, but its influence is great. Open to educated and non-educated members of the community, it is a unique space for disseminating theoretical and practical knowledge on the cooperative formula. Several future co-operators seek training there.

Father Sauvé is the author of numerous newspaper articles and brochures. He has given lectures in more than 400 communities in eastern Canada. Recognized for his active struggle against communism, he also praises the merits of social corporatism, a doctrine based on principles of professional solidarity, with a focus on coordinating the actions of companies and workers. He dies in 1961, after a long battle with disease.