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Louis Even — Biographical notes

on Thursday, 08 August 2013. Posted in Pilgrims of St. Michael

Louis Even was born on March 23, 1885, on the “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 his great devotion to Mary from this illustrious patron saint. He became a fervent propagandist of the Rosary throughout his 89 years upon earth.

Louis Even was the fourteenth child (out of sixteen) of Pierre Even and Marguerite Vitre. At home, he received a sound Christian education. His elementary studies were made at the school of the village.

On August 4, 1896, at the age of 11, he entered the juvenile school 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 began raging in France, with the enforcement of the Association Law, which restricted the activities of religious communities. Then in 1903, the Brothers of Christian Instruction were notified by the French Government that they had to dissolve their Institute. Henceforth, it was forbidden in France for the Brothers to wear the religious habit and to teach.

In Canada

The Brothers decided to send their best students on a 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 the Rocky Mountains, in Montana, U.S.A. He stayed there until 1906. This allowed him to acquire a perfect knowledge of the English language, which was to be enormously useful to him later on when he would study Social Credit in the books of Major C. H. Douglas.
Louis Even returned to Canada for good on June 24, 1906, the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the French Canadians. That same year, he taught at Grand Mère, Que. From 1907 to 1911, he was a teacher at St. Francis' School, in Montreal.

Then he became deaf and could not teach to children anymore. He was sent to Laprairie, at the Brothers' printing shop, which was very primitive at the time. Being hard-working and very brilliant, he developed the printing shop and expanded it considerably. He acquired new machines, and to learn their workings, he had to study German, since the manuals for the machines were in German. He also studied Latin on his own. This apprenticeship of printing was to be very precious to him later on for the foundation of his Movement.

Providentially (because he was deaf and could no longer teach children), he quit 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 having a book in his hand. He was well prepared to carry out in the world the mission that God had destined for him. He was released from his vows on November 20, 1920.

Garden City Press

Immediately, he was employed 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 an indelible mark of his genius on the firm.

On December 10, 1921, Louis Even married Laura Leblanc, and fathered four children: François, now a lawyer; Gemma, a teacher; Rose-Marie, a teacher and a secretary; and Agnès, a teacher. Being in charge of a family himself, it helped him to better understand the financial problems of the working-class families.

J. J. Harpell was more than just 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 the priceless master who could make him realize his aspirations. Louis Even worked as a typographer, a proofreader, and a foreman. He translated into French the periodical The Instructor — the organ of J. J. Harpell's Gardenvale study circle. He trained new workers, and he was the teacher for the employees' evening classes.

Social Credit

One day, in 1934, right in the middle of the Depression, Mr. Fielding, then Minister of Finance in Mackenzie King's Liberal Government in Ottawa, said to 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.”

Then Messrs. Harpell and Even decided that the evening classes for the next fall would revolve around the study of money and credit. They set about immediately, trying to find out a book on the subject. They received several books and manuscripts; one of them was I. A. Caldwell's book, <M>Money, What Is It?, which 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.

“Here is a light upon my way,” said Louis Even. He then got all of Douglas's books, plus books of other authors on the same topic. He recognized in Social Credit a whole series of principles which, once applied, would make a perfect monetary system and put an end to the Depression. Immediately, he said to himself: “Everybody must know this.” From then on he only thought about the means of realizing this wish.

The contacts established with The Instructor (and its French-language version, Le Moniteur), had given birth to new study circles, affiliated with that of Gardenvale, all over Quebec; in Sherbrooke, Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres, and Shawinigan. At the request of these new circles, Mr. Even went to give them lectures. He naturally spoke to them about Social Credit. Then 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, which was sent to some 1,200 French-speaking subscribers across Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario, and the Prairie Provinces.

In August of 1936, Louis Even founded another periodical, the Cahiers du Crédit Social (literally, Social Credit Brochures), which he wrote up during the evenings, still working at Garden City Press during the day, and he held conferences here and there in the region on weekends. From October of 1936 to August of 1939, a total of 16 issues of the Cahiers du Crédit Social were published, for 2,400 subscribers.

It was during this same period that Louis Even published his great brochure, Salvation Island (now entitled The Money Myth Exploded), which he would sell for a nickel a piece to the audience after his conferences. As of today, this brochure (also published in the form of a 16-page leaflet) still remains the A.B.C. of Social Credit, for beginners. It now circulates throughout the world, by the millions, in seven different languages (English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Polish).

J. Ernest Grégorie

In January of 1936, J. Ernest Grégoire was the Mayor of Quebec City and a member of the Quebec Legislative Assembly for Montmagny, when he attended the unforgettable Social Credit conference of Louis Even at Quebec City's Commercial Academy. He immediately joined Louis Even's Cause after this conference, to become, along with Miss Gilberte Côté, one of Louis Even's staunchest collaborators.

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 say in public, and to anyone who wanted to listen to him, 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, your sincerity, your devotion, 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 said to his students at Laval University: “I have taught errors to you; now I will teach you the truth.” Mr. Grégoire was the great defender of Louis Even's Movement, and in spite of the hideous persecutions that he was subjected to, he remained loyal to Louis Even and his Work till the day he died, September 17, 1980 (at the age of 95).

Gilberte Côté

In December, 1936, Miss Gilberte Côté, of Montreal, came upon articles on Social Credit published by Louis Even. She was 26 years old at the time. She studied the question of 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 — an unforgettable one — that they got to know 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 for eight long years, causing misery for the nations.

Mrs. Rosario Côté owned a big 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 next month (March). Each time, 75 people came to listen to him. That made a total of 150 people all together, who came from different walks of life. (There were even several priests among the audience.) They were all delighted by the talk of this great master in economics, by the genius that was Louis Even's, a remarkable teacher who was so easy to understand.
Gilberte Côté became at once the great collaborator of Louis Even. She was already quite learned at the time: she was a Bachelor of Arts, was a graduate in philosophy and literature from the University of Montreal, a graduate in social, economic, and political sciences from the same university, where she attended classes in trying to find the solution to the economic crisis of the time. Only Louis Even was able to fulfill her expectations in this field. This is the reason why she threw herself zealously into a great apostolate work to help Louis Even.

Gilberte Côté was also a Bachelor in Music from Dr. Robert Schmitz's Chicago Music School. She gave up her musical career which she was drawn towards very much, to give herself totally to the Social Credit Movement launched by Louis Even. She joined Louis Even's Movement for good as a full-time apostle on the road on January 2, 1939, in the depths of winter. (Mrs. Côté-Mercier died on June 2, 2002.)

Gérard Mercier

Gérard Mercier was first educated with the Brothers of Christian Schools, then with the priests of Lévis College. At the age of 25, he began working at the Annals of St. Anne de Beaupré, run by the Redemptorist Fathers.

In 1938, just to please a friend, he subscribed to Louis Even's Cahiers du Crédit Social. One night, unconsciously, before retiring, he picked up one of the brochures, and began to read it. He devoured it. The next day, he was down at the office of the Annals, preaching Social Credit. Louis Even nicknamed him “the fireball”. In 1996, almost sixty years later, Gérard Mercier is still in the battle, having kept all of his enthusiasm.

On September 4, 1938, at the peak of the Depression, Louis Even left his job — which was well-paying for that time — at Garden City Press. He was giving up much, as J. J. Harpell bequeathed to his employees his firm which was worth millions of dollars. Putting himself totally into the hands of Providence for his material needs and those of his family, Louis Even then decided to give himself full-time to his Work. Providence looked after him; his son, François, said a few years ago, on television, that his family never lacked the basic necessities of life.

Louis Even was well-armed. He had an extraordinary courage. He organized his meetings by going from door to door in order to invite people to attend them, and he begged for his meals and night's lodgings. 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 wrote up the leaflets to announce Louis Even's meetings, and she went from door to door to distribute them. She often had to start over again from scratch, four to five times in one day, because the political enemies arranged it so that she would lose the halls she had booked.

The Vers Demain Journal

In September 1939, World War II broke out. Louis Eve, very sad, but far from conquered, 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 a Breton head like Louis Even's, all obstacles could be overcome. And the Vers Demain Journal came into being. (In English, “Vers Demain” means, literally, “Towards Tomorrow”, or “For a better future”. The first issue in English came in 1953, as it will be explained a little further.) Mr. Even was its chief editor. He lived with his family in a very small house. His small bedroom was used also to write up his journal. Miss Côté was the administrator. She organized the administration office of Vers Demain in her mother's house. She looked after the registration of the subscribers, the correspondence, and she participated in the writing up of the journal, besides the meeting tours and the door-to-door. They had to purchase a mailing machine, filing cabinets, typewriters, etc., and find collaborators. The most precious one that she found was her cousin, Juliette Lavigne, who, besides doing the office work, carried out a great apostolate work at night 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, made conferences and did the door-to-door continuously across Canada. When they travelled by car or by train, Louis Even brought along his typewriter which he used to put onto his knees to write up articles for Vers Demain. After Masses, each Sunday, the founders spoke on the churches' steps. They trained speakers, and they sent them out to hold meetings here and there and to speak on the churches' steps on Sundays, to propagate the goods news of new economics, of an economy of plenty.

In 1940, to propagate the Vers Demain Journal, Louis Even, while hospitalized following a car accident, contemplated establishing the Institute of Political Action. He wrote later: “Upon Vers Demain was grafted the Institute of Political Action. And the Institute propagates Vers Demain precisely because all political action, to come up to the demands of the common good, to the desires of the human being, must be based on study. And the members of the Institute are working without material gain, because we need nothing less than apostles to re-establish order in a world where selfishness has sent it topsy-turvy.”

In 1991, to honour Louis Even and his Work, the name of the Institute of Political Action was changed for the “Louis Even Institute for Social Justice” which, since that time, is the official publisher of the Michael and Vers Demain Journals.

Volunteer apostles were therefore called upon, through the Vers Demain Journal, their role being to solicit subscriptions, to find new subscribers. The first one to answer the call was Gérard Mercier. And many others joined Louis Even's Movement. For example, after two years of existence, Vers Demain had already 25,000 subscribers.

The Michael and Vers Demain Journals have part-time volunteer apostles in every region of Canada, and several apostles abroad, in the U.S.A., Europe, and other countries. From the very beginning up to now (1996), the local apostles, led sometimes by a full-time apostle, have grouped together to do the door-to-door. For several years, the apostles left on Saturday morning to do the door-to-door in different localities, all day Saturday, and were put up for the night with people who received them; on Sunday morning, after Mass, one of them spoke to the people on the church's steps, while the others distributed Vers Demain Journals and solicited subscriptions. They had lunch with the families, and did the door-to-door for the rest of the afternoon, and returned home Sunday night. It is thanks to this door-to-door Crusade if Louis Even's Movement has always been healthy, in spite of the hateful persecutions it was subjected to. The teaching given in the families is very much fruitful, and when the Pilgrim leaves, the 16-page Michael or Vers Demain Journal keeps coming into the home (5 times a year) with its teaching.

Besides the numerous regional meetings held to stimulate the zeal of the local apostles and to teach Social Credit to the population, each year, from the very beginning of the Movement, a general Congress is held (on the first weekend of September), to which all of the population is invited. This Congress gathers together the Social Crediters from all regions of Canada, the U.S.A., and often from France and Belgium.

The full-time apostles

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 people to join their rank. Gérard Mercier was again the first one to answer the call. He joined both founders for good 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 go into regions to hold meetings, to do the door-to-door themselves every day while begging for their meals and night's lodgings, and they organize the local apostles in teams for the door-to-door Crusade.

The Flag — The White Beret

An outstanding propagandist is the white, red, and golden flag which flutters in the wind on the cars and the homes of the Social Crediters. The idea for the beautiful flag was conceived by Louis Even in 1941. And it is in Christ the King Roman Catholic Church of Sherbrooke, Que., that this flag was blessed with the warm approval of the Most Rev. Philippe Desranleau, who was the Bishop of the Diocese of Sherbrooke at the time. In relating the event, Louis Even wrote in the September 15, 1941 issue of Vers Demain: “We shall keep our white flag stainless.” (The three colors of the flag are meaningful: white means the purity of intention of the apostles; the red flame, the fire of the apostolate; the golden book shows that it is a work of education.)

At the 1949 Congress held in Asbestos, Que., Pierre Bouchard, a zealous Social Crediter from Arvida, Que., arrived with some white berets bearing the symbol of the flag. The beret was unanimously adopted by all the Directors and all the Social Crediters present. It became the uniform of the Michael and Vers Demain apostles.

In This Age of Plenty

In 1946, Mr. Even published his marvellous book Sous le Signe de l'Abondance (In This Age of Plenty). The implementation of the principles expressed in this book would give peace and justice to the world, as wanted by God. With the fourth (revised) edition published in 1988, a total of 24,000 copies were published in French. The clear and simple explanations given make it easy for anyone to grasp Social Credit, even for people who have no knowledge of economics. And Major Douglas, the genius who invented Social Credit, asserted that Louis Even was the one who understood and expressed his thoughts the best.

Fifty years later, in 1996, Louis Even's book was finally 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 brochures: What Do We Mean By Real Social Credit? and A Sound and Effective Financial System.

A journal in English

In 1953, to reach the English-speaking world, Louis Even founded a journal in English, which was first called Social Credit, and then, The Union of Electors. From 1968 to 1973, it was also called Vers Demain, like its French counterpart. Finally, in 1974, its title was changed for Michael, and it is still published under this title in 1996, every two months. Since September, 1999, there is also a journal in Polish, printed in Rougemont, that is also called Michael; an edition in Spanish, called San Miguel, exists since April, 2003.

While carrying out their intense apostolate work, through meetings, the door-to-door, and the publishing of two journals in French and in English, Louis Even or Gilberte Côté-Mercier gave conferences, every week, for half an hour, on 33 radio stations and 11 television stations across Canada — from 1958 to 1964 for television, and until 1969 for the radio. These broadcasts were paid for by benefactors. But as immorality became rampant through the media, our Directors stopped the conferences, to concentrate their efforts instead on the leaflet distribution.

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 lodged free of charge in her home, for 25 years, the office of the two journals. As the Movement developed, a more roomy place was needed. A piece of land was purchased in Rougemont, 55 kilometres southeast of Montreal, Que. (A few days after the purchase, it was found out that the patron saint of Rougemont's Roman Catholic parish was Saint Michael!) Volunteer workers were called upon to build the new headquarters. And it is Dollard Leclerc, a building contractor and a full-time apostle of Louis Even's Movement at the time, who carried out the construction, under the delightful eye of Louis Even and the competent administration of Mrs. Gilberte Côté-Mercier. In December of 1962, Louis Even entered into the new headquarters of his Movement, to continue the struggle against the financiers. He called this edifice the “House of Saint Michael”. Louis Even's wife had died at the beginning of the same month. She was buried in Rougemont's cemetery.

In 1965, Louis Even became seriously ill, and it kept him bedridden for three long months. He was 80 years old. Gilberte Côté-Mercier relieved him from editing the journal, and looked after it herself, in spite of her many other jobs. Back on his feet, Louis Even continued to write up articles for Michael and Vers Demain, and to make conferences throughout the country.

In 1968, after 65 years of “exile”, so to speak, 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 that time, a Social Credit circle was established in France, and it developed very well with the passing years.

In April of 1970, at 85 years of age, Louis Even and his two invaluable collaborators took a flight to Brazil to go and plant the seed 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 a few thousand leaflets, 9 by 12 inches. In 1972, Louis Even and the other Directors went to New York City to purchase a printing press which could print 4-page offprints of our two journals. This allowed the pages of Michael and Vers Demain to multiply by the millions, and to be shipped free of charge throughout the world to our registered leaflet distributors. Looking at his new purchase, Louis Even said: “It is not tomorrow that we will be able to print millions of leaflets like Saint Maximilian Kolbe's printing works.” But ever since, the Movement printed and shipped millions and millions of Michael and Vers Demain offprints, going to plant the brilliant Social Credit idea throughout all continents, in Africa, in Europe, in Asia, in the Philippines, in the United States, etc. (In 1995, the equivalent of 36 million 4-page offprints were printed and distributed.) This was the beginning of our printing shop. A few years later, we purchased a typesetting machine, a camera, and a big printing press capable of bringing out a 16-page tabloid (the format of our two journals). Since 1976, our Michael and Vers Demain Journals, as well as our millions of offprints, are written up and printed by volunteer apostles, at the House of Saint Michael.

Religious life

On July 14, 1972, at Louis Even's request, the “Pilgrims of Saint Michael” had the joy of being granted by their Bishop, the Most. Rev. Albert Sanschagrin, then Bishop of St. Hyacinthe, Que., the permission to have the Blessed Sacrament in their chapel at the House of Saint Michael, and to have the Holy Mass celebrated there. The good Oblate Fathers are now in charge of these religious services. Besides attending Holy Mass every day, following in the footsteps of Louis Even, the Pilgrims also recite the Rosary daily (15 decades), the Angelus, and the Saint Michael Chaplet.

In 1975, the House of the Immaculate was built, again with volunteer workers, under the competent direction of Fernand Morin. Bishop Sanschagrin deigned to come himself to bless the chapel of the House of the Immaculate. Since 1975, our monthly meetings and annual Congress in Rougemont have been held in the House of the Immaculate.

After a life of complete devotion to the service of God and neighbour, Louis Even passed away at the age of 89 years and six months, on September 27, 1974, to go and celebrate in heaven, two days later, September 29, the great Archangel Saint Michael, the patron of his Movement.

Louis Even was the man who changed the course of our lives. We pay him a tender homage, and we carry on with his Work, under the competent management of his two greatest collaborators: Gilberte Côté-Mercier and Gérard Mercier.

Social Credit is a light for us all. But the life of the great Louis Even should also be a light for us all as well.

Thérèse Tardif

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