Le Coeur Housing Co-operative was established in 1981 on the foundations of the co-operative principles: caring, affordable and secure housing for all people regardless of age, income, cultural background, religion or sexual orientation. The original idea to use this land came from a group of Unitarians who dreamed of creating a village based on liberal religious values. When the project got too big for them, the village idea became a housing cooperative. Le Coeur has grown into a Co-op with individuals and families of many different beliefs that support cooperative living.
Marlene Rogerson is one of the original members of Le Coeur who still lives here. Marlene was on the first Board and was one of the members who helped build Le Coeur. When Le Coeur was nothing more than wood foundations and house frames she would drive by after work. The contractors enjoyed seeing her walking around the site in her business suit and heels, checking on their work.
Marlene says, “People were looking for housing in a safe, secure, friendly environment where they could be the owners. That was the original idea, to be an owner of our own home. We were very strong in those days in managing, looking after and caring for our homes ourselves. When everybody was involved in running the community we knew all our neighbours.”
The reasons people are attracted to living in a co-op are the same today as they were thirty years ago: affordability, safety, security. Marlene says, “Housing cooperatives were designed to support growing families, and to be a safety net for individuals and families who could sometimes experience swings in income.”
Over the years people have come and gone, how we manage ourselves has changed, but the principles of safe, affordable housing, based on co-operation and good communication is still an important vision.
“Where did the name come from?” This is a question we hear a lot! The first members of the co-op were inspired by the name of the area, Champlain Heights. Champlain is the name of a French explorer. Everyone put forward their ideas and Le Coeur was chosen because ‘le coeur’ is the French word for ‘the heart’. The original members wanted Le Coeur to be the ‘heart’ of Champlain Heights.
In terms of our street name, Cordiale Drive, the first members of the co-op were also inspired by the French influence. Cordiale, with the ‘e’ is the French spelling of cordial. Cordial means ‘relating to the heart, vital, warm and friendly’. The original members wanted people to know when they drove into Le Coeur that they were entering a community that was warm and friendly: cordiale.
By member Debra Thorne