Tim Hortons is known as the king of Canadian donuts. Founded in 1964, the company became a multi-million-dollar company within less than half a decade and as of today, is Canada’s leading restaurant chain with 4,478 establishments worldwide.
The first Tim Hortons was located on 65 Ottawa St N at Dunsmure in Hamilton, Ontario, an industrial city about forty-five minutes from the U.S. border. Hamilton was once home to many steel plants, among several other high-powered manufacturing companies, and the people who lived there were mostly blue-collar workers at the factories. The most popular offerings at the original location were the Dutchie and the Apple Fritter, which were sold for only 10 cents apiece and quickly captured the taste buds of the factory laborers.
Why is it Called Tim Hortons?
The restaurant was named after its founder, the legendary, fiery-tempered hockey player, Tim Horton. Horton played for the Toronto Maple Leafs for close to 20 years, scoring 115 goals with 403 assists in the regular season. He played on the NHL’s All-Star team 6 times and on was on 4 winning Stanley Cup teams during his career. Horton was known for his spleen-squeezing bear hug, which he would wield against opponents who were trying to waylay him with erratic haymakers and uppercuts.
In the middle of his career, the hockey pro decided to open a donut shop in his home state, about an eight-hour drive from where he grew up in Cochrane, ON. Unlike hockey players today, back in the 60s, these hard-skating athletes didn’t make nearly as much money, and Horton always had an interest in the food-service business, so he decided to give it a go.
The concept was simple: delicious donuts and strong, freshly brewed coffee that was affordable, served hot every day and would keep the shift-workers at the local steel factories buzzed on caffeine for their long day.
Horton had a falling out with his original business partner, Jim Charade, pretty quickly into the popular eatery’s career, and soon Horton was looking for another business associate who could help him with some of the legwork while he maintained his successful sports career.
A few years after the company’s inception, Horton partnered with Ron Joyce, a former navy wireless operator and current police officer, whose introduction to the food-service industry was as the owner of a Dairy Queen in Hamilton where he’d lived since he was 16. Joyce and Horton slowly built the business over the years, expanding across Canada as word spread throughout the country about their delicious donuts and exceptional coffee.
Unfortunately, tragedy visited the prosperous franchise on February 21, 1974, when Horton crashed his De Tomaso Pantera sports car, which he had recently received as a signing bonus from the Buffalo Sabres, and was killed in a single-car accident in the early morning hours.
Joyce went on to establish the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation and the Tim Horton’s Children Camp in his honor, which helps young people in need. He also continued to do a spectacular job as the CEO of Tim Hortons, making it an essential part of Canada’s national identity and guaranteeing Horton’s legacy for years to come. What are some other popular brands named after famous sports stars?
Travis McDonald is a professional freelance writer who creates content for a wide variety of clients. He received his bachelor’s in English from The University of Texas at Austin and his MFA in creative writing from Virginia Tech.