Philippe Chauvin

Born in Pointe-aux-Roches, Chauvin was a descendant of one of the oldest French-Canadian farm families in the Kent and Essex area on the shores of Lake St. Clair. In 1943, as a school trustee, he travelled to the federal capital to attend the convention of the Association canadienne-française d’éducation de l’Ontario, today known as ACFO. There he met with Father Gustave Sauvé, a passionate co-operator who taught Social sciences à the University of Ottawa. He took a correspondence course on the cooperative movement offered by the University. Chauvin worked to implement the cooperative movement in Francophone villages of Southwestern Ontario. The first step was to educate farmers, so he organized kitchen table gatherings from house to house and from road to road, in order to explain into the cooperative principles. The movement perfectly met the needs of the Francophones, who were a very small minority in the region, by allowing them to gather, learn and discuss business in French. In 1944, the co-operators took action and founded the Caisse populaire de Pointe-aux-Roches, and Chauvin became the president of the first financial institution in Southwestern Ontario. Caring about the agricultural community, he was a founding member of the Coopérative de Pointe-aux-Roches in 1948, supported by a few farmers who invested their own money. The co-operative still exists today, and is one of the most thriving in French Ontario. Chauvin was also a founding member, as well as the second chairman of the Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens in Kent and Essex’s chapter.

A dedicated, passionate French Canadian, he fought hard against assimilation in a region where a small minority constantly struggled to survive. He contributed to the establishment of institutions that promoted the vitality of the Francophone community. He served as a school trustee for 26 years and successfully persuaded the authorities to hire French-Speaking teachers, which was a first in the region. He was the founding president of the seniors’ club in Pointes-aux-Roches, a member of the Saint-Cyr cultural center, which enlivened the Francophone community in the whole region, the president of the Société franco-ontarienne d’histoire et de généalogie in Windsor-Essex, and a founding-member of the Richelieu Club “Les Campagnards”. Throughout his working life, Chauvin defended the interests of Franco-Ontarian farmers and the rights of the Francophones in Kent and Essex.