Louis Even was born on March 23, 1885, on “La Poulanière” farm, in Montfort-sur-Meu, a municipality 30 kilometres west of Rennes, in Brittany, France. This municipality was also the birthplace of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. Louis Even inherited from his illustrious patron saint, his great devotion to Mary. He was a fervent apostle of the Rosary from his youth until de died, at the age of 89.
Louis Even was the fourteenth of sixteen children born to Pierre Even and Marguerite Vitre. At home, he received a sound Christian education: Among his brothers and sisters, six became religious brothers and sisters. He himself became a brother of Christian Instruction.
He attended grammar school in his home village. On August 4, 1896, at the age of 11, he entered the Juniorate of the Brothers of Christian Instruction, in Livré.
On February 2, 1901, he began his novitiate in Ploërmel. In July of the same year, an antireligious campaign was raging on, in France. The government, through the "Combes Law", was turning down all requests for associations so as to prevent the formation of any new religious communities. Later, in 1903, the Brothers of Christian Instruction were officially notified by the French Government that their Institute was being dissolved. Henceforth, the brothers were forbidden from wearing their habit and from teaching in France.
The Brothers decided to send their best subjects on mission. Louis Even was part of the group. He left France for Canada in February of 1903. From there, he was sent to teach the Indians of Montana, in the Rocky Mountains, in the United States. He remained there until 1906. This allowed him to acquire a perfect knowledge of the English language that would later become most useful for studying the books written on Social Credit by Major C. H. Douglas.
Louis Even returned to Canada permanently on June 24, 1906, on the feast of Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of the French Canadians. That same year, he taught school at Grand Mère. From 1907 to 1911, he taught at Saint Francis' school, in the Immaculate Conception parish, in Montreal.
The Brothers' printing shop
He then became deaf and could no longer teach children. He was sent to Laprairie where the Brothers had their printing shop. (Les Frères de l'instruction chrétienne were an important publishing house at the time. They printed many of the textbooks used in schools all over the Province). Hard working and possessing an above average intelligence, Louis Even brought improvements to the printing shop and expanded it considerably.
He acquired new machinery, and to learn how they worked, he had to study German, since the instruction manuals were written in German. He also studied Latin on his own. This apprenticeship of printing would later be most valuable to him for the foundation of his Movement.
It was Providence's wish that he should leave the community of the Brothers of Christian Instruction where he had acquired a sound religious and intellectual formation, for he was a man of study and reflection, always reading. He was well prepared to carry throughout the world the mission God had intended for him. He was relieved of his vows on November 20, 1920.
Garden City Press
Immediately, he found employment in Ste Anne de Bellevue, west of Montreal, at Garden City Press, a printing shop owned by J. J. Harpell, a Catholic of Irish descent. There too, Louis Even left the mark of his genius upon the firm.
On December 10, 1921, Louis Even and Laura Leblanc were married. They had four children: François, now a lawyer; Gemma, a teacher; Rose-Marie, a teacher and secretary; and Agnès, a teacher. Being in charge of a family, it helped him understand the financial problems of the working-class families.
An outstanding teacher
J.J. Harpell was more than a businessman. He wanted to promote the intellectual development and general knowledge of his employees, by having them attend evening classes. In Louis Even, Harpell had found an outstanding teacher who could make his aspirations come through. Louis Even worked as a typographer, a proofreader and as a foreman. He translated into French the The Instructor, the periodical of J. J. Harpell's Gardenvale study circle. He trained the newly employed workers and he taught the employees' evening classes.
Mr. Fielding, then Minister of Finance in Mackenzie King's Liberal Government in Ottawa, once told Mr. Harpell who was a close friend of his: “If you want to know where the financial power lies in Canada, look towards the banks and the insurance companies.” This was in 1934, right in the middle of the Recession.
It was then decided that the Fall evening classes would revolve around the study of money and credit. A book on the subject was immediately sought after. Several books and manuscripts were received. One of which was I. A. Caldwell's Money, What Is It? that was later translated into French by Louis Even. But it was a simple 96-page booklet that brought him the light he was looking for. It was entitled: From Debt to Prosperity, by J. Crate Larkin, of Buffalo. It was a summary of Major Douglas's monetary doctrine: Social Credit.
“A light upon my path” thought Louis Even. He obtained all of Douglas's books. He recognized in Social Credit a body of principles which, once applied, would make a perfect monetary system that would put an end to the Depression. There and then, he told himself: “Everyone needs to know this.” From then on, all of his thoughts went to finding the means by which to fulfill his pledge.
Contacts established through The Instructor had given birth to new study circles, affiliated to the Gardenvale circle, in Sherbrooke, Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres and Shawinigan. Mr Even visited these circles at their request and gave them lectures. Naturally, the topic was Social Credit. Next he held public meetings across the Provinces of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.
Louis Even translated into French the brochure From Debt to Prosperity. He also wrote articles on Social Credit in Le Moniteur. There were some 1,200 French-speaking subscribers across Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario, and the Prairies.
The Cahiers du Crédit Social
In August of 1936, Louis Even founded another periodical, the Cahiers du Crédit Social (i.e. the Social Credit Notebooks), which he wrote during the evenings while working during the day at Garden City Press. On weekends, he gave conferences throughout the countryside. From October of 1936 to August of 1939, a total of 16 issues of the Cahiers du Crédit Social were published and distributed to 2,400 subscribers.
It was during this same period that Louis Even published his famous brochure Salvation Island (now called The Money Myth Exploded), which he would sell for a nickel a piece to members of the audience after his conferences. To this day, this brochure remains the A.B.C. of Social Credit. It is now distributed throughout the world, by the millions, in eight different languages.
In January of 1936, J.Ernest Grégoire was the Mayor of Quebec City and member of the Quebec Legislative Assembly for Montmagny, when he attended Louis Even's memorable conference on Social Credit given at Quebec City's Commercial Academy, in January of 1936. He immediately joined Louis Even's Cause. He became one of Louis Even's staunchest supporters.
Mr Grégoire's resumé included the following: Bachelor of the Sherbrooke Seminary; Bachelor of Law from Laval University in Quebec City; a degree in economic and social sciences; a graduate in political and diplomatic sciences from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; a degree in French literature from Lille University in France; a brilliant lawyer in Quebec City; a professor of political economy and of commercial law at Quebec City's Commercial Academy; a professorship in political economy at Laval University; a professor of architecture and of Art History at the Quebec City Art College.
In spite of his brilliant culture and his great knowledge, Mr Grégoire would tell publicly to anyone who cared to listen that “he did not hold a candle to Louis Even.” In a letter addressed to the latter on January 1, 1961, Mr Grégoire wrote: “All those who got to know you and who remain loyal to you, because they are still convinced of your science, of your sincerity, of your devotion, of your spirit of sacrifice, wish with me for Providence to keep you among us for a long time to come...”
Once Mr. Grégoire understood Social Credit, he told his students at Laval University: “I have taught you errors. Now I will teach you the truth.” Mr Grégoire was the great defender of Louis Even's Movement, and in spite of the harsh persecutions he was subjected to, he remained loyal to Louis Even and his Work until the day he died, on September 17, 1980, at the age of 95.
Living in Montreal, in December of 1936, Miss Gilberte Côté came upon some articles on Social Credit published by Louis Even. She was 26 years old at the time. She studied the matter in J. J. Caldwell's book Money, What Is It? She gave a lecture on Social Credit at the Inter Nos Circle, in Montreal, in December of 1936. She heard Louis Even for the first time in February of 1937, in the parish hall of the Nativity Church, in the Hochelaga district, in Montreal.
She was accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Rosario Côté, and her brother, Rosaire. It is on that day, a memorable one, that they met the great Louis Even. They were delighted to hear him explain so clearly and logically the solution to the Depression which had then been raging on in the world: Eight long years of misery for the nations.
Mrs Rosario Côté owned a large house, with a large living room, on St Joseph Boulevard, in Montreal. She invited Louis Even at once to come and hold two conferences during the following month, in March. Both times, 75 people came to listen to him. A total of 150 people who came from different walks of life. There were several priests among the audience. All were delighted by the talk of this great teacher of economics, by the genius that was Louis Even's, a remarkable teacher who was so easy to understand.
Gilberte Côté became Louis Even's great collaborator. Highly educated, she held a Bachelor degree in Arts, a degree in Philosophy and Litterature from the University of Montreal, and a diploma in Social, Economic and Political Sciences. The latter she had taken to find an answer to the ongoing Recession. Louis Even was the only one who succeeded in answering her questions in this field. This is why she joined Louis Even zealously to help him in his great apostolate.
Gilberte Côté also held a degree in Music from Dr. Robert Schmitz's Chicago Music School. She gave up a musical career to which she was drawn, to give herself totally to the Social Credit Movement launched by Louis Even. She joined Louis Even's Movement permanently, as a full-time pilgrim, on the road, on January 2, 1939, in the depths of winter. Mrs. Côté-Mercier died on June 2, 2002.
Gérard Mercier received his early education from the Brothers of Christian Schools. He went on to study at the College de Lévis which was run by priests. At the age of 25, he was working at the Annals of St Anne de Beaupré, run by the Redemptorists.
In 1938, to please a friend, he subscribed to Louis Even's Cahiers du Crédit Social. One evening, before retiring to bed, he picked up one of the Cahiers and began to read it. He read the whole thing. The next day, he stood at the Annals door, preaching Social Credit. Louis Even nicknamed him “the ball of fire”. Mr Mercier passed away on September 4, 1997, after spending some 58 years in battle without ever loosing his enthusiasm.
In the hands of Providence
On September 4, 1938, at the peak of the Depression, Louis Even left his job at Garden City Press, a well-paying job for that time. He was also renouncing to his share of the enterprise that J. J. Harpell would later bequeath to his employees, a printing shop worth millions of dollars. Putting his trust into the hands of Providence for his material needs and those of his family, Louis Even then decided to consecrate all of his time to his Work. Providence watched over them. His son François, would later tell television reporters that his family had never lacked the basic necessities of life.
From door to door
Louis Even was armed with a courage that was out of the ordinary. He organized his meetings by going from door to door in order to invite the people to attend. He begged for his meals and for a place to sleep. This direct contact with the families was unparalleled in order to win them over to the Cause. In the door-to-door and after his conferences, Mr Even offered his Cahiers du Crédit Social for a nickel a piece, but he gave them away most of the time since the families were so poor. Miss Côté possessed the same daring and the same courage: She would write up the flyers to announce the meetings, and she went from door to door to distribute them. She would often have to start over from scratch, as many as four times in one day, because the political enemies would make her lose the halls she had booked.
The Vers Demain Journal
In September 1939, World War II broke out. Louis Even, greatly saddened but far from being vanquished, said peremptorily: “Let us found a journal.” There could not be a worst time to found a journal, because of the war measures. But with the head of a Breton such as Louis Even's, all obstacles could be overcome. And the Vers Demain Journal came into being. (Vers Demain means “Towards Tomorrow”. Mr Even was its chief editor. He lived with his family in a small house. His small bedroom was also used as an office where he wrote his journal. Miss Côté was the administrator. She set up the administration office of Vers Demain in her mother's house. She took care of registering the subscribers, of the correspondence, and she took part in writing the journal, in the meeting tours and in the door to door visits. Mailing machines, filing cabinets, typewriters had to be purchased. Help was needed. She found a most precious collaborator in her cousin, Juliette Lavigne who, besides tending to the office, carried out a great apostolate work in the evening and on weekends. Mr. Even used to call Miss Lavigne “the little Providence”. Rosaire Côté, Gilberte Côté's brother was a full-time apostle for 4 years, from 1939 to 1943.
Louis Even and Gilberte Côté, accompanied by Mrs Rosario Côté, Juliette Lavigne and Rosaire Côté,held conferences and made door-to-door visits throughout Canada. When they travelled by car or by train, Louis Even would bring his typewriter. He would lay it on his knees and write articles for Vers Demain. After Sunday Mass, the founders would speak on the church steps of the different parishes they visited. They trained speakers to do the same and to hold meetings in different places, to spread the goods news of an economy of plenty.
The Institute of Political Action
In 1940, while hospitalized following a car accident, Louis Even, thought about establishing the Institute of Political Action to promote the Vers Demain Journal. He later wrote: “Upon Vers Demain was grafted the Institute of Political Action. And the Institute promotes Vers Demain precisely because all political action, to answer the demands of the common good and to the desires of the human being, must be based upon study. And the members of the Institute are working without material reward, because we need nothing less than apostles to re-establish order in a world made go wrong by selfishness.”
In 1991, to honor Louis Even and his Work, the name of the Institute of Political Action was changed to the “Louis Even Institute for Social Justice” which then became the official publisher of the Michael and Vers Demain Journals.
A call for volunteer apostles was sent out in the Vers Demain Journal. They would become members of the Institute of Political Action. There role was to find new subscribers. The first one to answer the call was Gérard Mercier. And many others joined in. Two years after its creation, Vers Demain had 25,000 subscribers.
The Michael and Vers Demain Journals now have part-time volunteer apostles scattered throughout the world. The local pilgrims get together to do the door-to-door crusade and to distribute leaflets. In the early years, the pilgrims would leave on Saturday morning only to return on Sunday night. They would visit different localities all day Saturday, asking the people they met for a bite to eat and a place to spend the night.
On Sunday morning, after Mass, one of them would speak to the people while standing on the church's steps, while the others distributed Vers Demain Journals and solicited subscriptions. They had lunch with the families, visited more families during the afternoon before returning home on Sunday night.
Thanks to this door-to-door Crusade, Louis Even's Movement has remained in good health in spite of the heinous persecutions it suffered. The teaching given in the families is very fruitful, and when the Pilgrims leave, the Michael or Vers Demain Journal keeps coming into the home with its teaching.
Numerous regional meetings are held to stimulate the zeal of the local apostles and to teach Social Credit. Since the very beginning of the Movement, a general Congress is held once a year, to which all of the population is invited. This Congress brings together Social Crediters from all regions of Canada, the United States and many other countries.
|Mrs. Rosario Côté, Gilberte Côté-Mercier, Louis Even and J. Ernest Grégoire at our 1949 Congress in Asbestos, Que.|
The founders called upon full-time apostles to join their rank. Gérard Mercier was again the first one to answer the call. He joined the two founders permanently in June of 1941. He married Gilberte Côté on February 14, 1946.
Afterwards, several other full-time apostles joined the Movement, some for a few years, some for several years, and others for life. They are all volunteers. They travel to the different regions to hold meetings, to do the door-to-door crusade asking for their meals and for a place to sleep. They also organize the local apostles into teams for the door-to-door Crusade.
The flag and the white Beret
Outstanding propaganda is offered by the white, red, and golden flag which flutters in the wind on the cars and the homes of Social Crediters. The flag was conceived by Louis Even in 1941. And it was blessed in Christ the King Church in Sherbrooke, with the warm approval of the Most Rev. Philippe Desranleau, then Bishop of the Sherbrooke Diocese. In relating the event, Louis Even wrote in the September 15, 1941 issue of Vers Demain: “We shall keep our white flag free of all blemish.”
At the 1949 Congress held in Asbestos, Pierre Bouchard, a fervent Social Crediter from Arvida, arrived with white berets bearing the symbol of the flag. The beret was unanimously adopted by all the Directors and all the Social Crediters in attendance. It became the uniform of the Michael and Vers Demain apostles.
In this Age of Plenty
In 1946, Mr Even published his outstanding book Sous le Signe de l'Abondance (In This Age of Plenty). The implementation of the principles expressed in this book would bring peace and justice to the world, in accordace to God's Will. The sixth revised French edition (2015) is now in print. The clear and simple explanations given make it easy for anyone to grasp Social Credit, even for people who have no prior knowledge of economics. And Major Douglas, the genius who invented Social Credit, asserted that Louis Even was the one who best understood and best conveyed his thoughts.
Fifty years later, in 1996, Louis Even's book was translated into English under the title In This Age of Plenty. In 1993, a translation into Polish was published by the Most Rev. Zbigniew Kraszewski, auxiliary Bishop of Warsaw, Poland. Bishop Kraszewski received from Pope John Paul II a blessing for Louis Even's book.
Louis Even also published other essays in booklet form: Modern Taxation is Robbery, A Sound and Efficient Financial System, and What is the True Meaning of Social Credit?
An English journal
In 1953, to reach the English-speaking world, Louis Even founded a journal that was first called Social Credit, and later, The Union of Electors. From 1968 to 1973, it was called Vers Demain like its French counterpart. Its title was changed to Michael in 1974.
Michael is also published in Polish since September of 1999, and in Spanish since April of 2003.
Radio and television
While they carried out this intense apostolate of holding meetings, of visiting families door-to-door and of publishing two journals in French and in English, Louis Even and Gilberte Côté-Mercier took turns at giving 30 minute weekly conferences which were aired on 33 radio stations and 11 television stations across Canada, from 1958 to 1964 on television and until 1969 on the radio. These broadcasts were paid for by benefactors. But as immorality became rampant throughout the media, our Directors decided to put an end to these conferences and to dedicate their efforts instead to the distribution of leaflets.
The Pilgrims of Saint Michael
Louis Even always had a great devotion to Saint Michael. That is why, in 1961, he placed his Movement under the special protection of the great Archangel, by giving the title of “Pilgrims of Saint Michael” to the apostles of his Social Credit Movement.
Mrs Rosario Côté housed the Journal's offices in her home, during 25 years. As the Movement expanded, more room was needed. A piece of land was purchased in Saint Michel de Rougemont, 55 kilometers southeast of Montreal. Volunteer workers were called upon to build the new headquarters. Dollard Leclerc, a building contractor, then a full-time apostle of the Movement, supervised the construction, under Louis Even's delighted eyes and the competent administration of Mrs. Gilberte Côté-Mercier. In December of 1962, Louis Even moved into his Movement's new headquarters dedicated to Saint Michael, to continue the struggle against the financiers. Louis Even's wife died earlier that month. She was buried in Rougemont's cemetery.
In 1965, Louis Even became seriously ill and he remained bedridden for three long months. He was 80 years old. Gilberte Côté-Mercier took over as editor of the journal despite her many other duties. Back on his feet, Louis Even continued to write articles for Michael and Vers Demain, and kept on giving conferences throughout the country.
In 1968, after 65 years of what could be called an exile, Louis Even, at 83 years of age, returned to France for the first time, not as a tourist, but to hold a conference tour and to bring the light of Social Credit to his fellow countrymen. He was accompanied by Mrs Côté-Mercier and by Gérard Mercier. A general strike in France prevented them from holding their meetings. They went back in 1969, and this time, a Social Credit circle was established in France, and it has kept growing ever since.
In April of 1970, at 85 years of age, Louis Even and his two invaluable companions flew to Brazil to plant the seeds of Social Credit in that country.
A printing press
Since 1939, the Vers Demain Journal had been printed by commercial printers. In 1964, a small printing press was purchased to print 9 by 12 inch leaflets. In 1972, Louis Even and the other Directors went to New York City to purchase a printing press that could print 4-page offprints of our two journals. This allowed the pages of Michael and Vers Demain to be multiplied by the millions, and to be sent to registered leaflet distributors throughout the world. The leaflets were provided free, the cost of their transportation being paid by benefactors.
Looking at his new purchase, Louis Even said: “We are not on the eve of printing the millions of copies that Saint Maximilian Kolbe printed.” But since that day, the Movement has printed and shipped millions upon millions of Michael and Vers Demain offprints to make Social Credit known throughout the world. (In 2015 - 2016, some two million 4-page offprints are being printed and distributed.) Thus began the printing shop. A few years later, we purchased a word processor and other material needed to edit the journals and offprints. A larger printing press capable of printing a 16-page tabloid was also purchased. Our publications are now fully edited by volunteers at Maison St-Michel.
On July 14, 1972, at Louis Even's request, the Pilgrims of Saint Michael had the privilege of being granted by their local Bishop, H.E. Albert Sanschagrin, then Bishop of St Hyacinthe, the permission to keep the Blessed Sacrament in their chapel at the House of Saint Michael and to have the Holy Mass celebrated there. Religious services are provided by the Oblate Fathers and local clergy. Besides attending Holy Mass every day, following in the footsteps of Louis Even, the Pilgrims recite the Rosary daily, the Angelus and the Saint Michael Chaplet.
In 1975, the House of the Immaculate was built, once again with volunteer workers, under Fernand Morin's expert supervision. Bishop Sanschagrin presided in person over the blessing of the chapel dedicated to the Immaculate.
1974, the great departure
After a life of complete devotion to the service of God and neighbor, Louis Even passed away at the age of 89 years and six months, on September 27, 1974. In Heaven, he would celebrate two days later on September 29, the great Archangel, Saint Michael, his Movement's Patron Saint.
Louis Even was the man who changed the course of our lives. We pay a tender homage to him, and we carry on with his Work.
May both Social Credit and Louis Even's life be an enlightenment to us all.