Wondering what a caisse populaire is? I think I might have explained it in one of the James Bay community profiles, but if not, here it is.
A caisse populaire (pronounced roughly like “case pop-ooh-lair”) is a francophone credit union. Credit unions are not-for-profit bank-like financial institutions that are owned and controlled by its members. You can only deposit or borrow money from a credit union if you’re a member. So it’s a bank that is slightly-less inclined to screw you. Because, in a tiny tiny way, you sorta own it.
All the caisses are aligned so that if you’re a member of the Val Rita caisse you can access the same services in New Liskeard and in Matheson, etc. etc. This means that the caisses outside of large cities like Timmins aren’t out all on their own trying to survive against big banks. It also means that tiny hamlets like Val Gagné and Moonbeam can have financial services in their own towns, since banks wouldn’t find it economical to serve these places if they can’t turn a large enough profit.
If you’re in a town and you see a caisse, that pretty much means there is a francophone population. They’re really common throughout northeastern Ontario. The most westerly I have seen a caisse is Longlac and the most easterly I think was Latchford (and Sudbury, but that’s off Highway 11). I think every town in the Interior section has a caisse. There are a stack of them in Temiskaming as well.