Behold, I bring you great tidings of coffee joy! On May 17, 2014, “Tim Hortons” celebrated a milestone 50th anniversary as Canada’s beloved and iconic coffee shop.
For Canadian coffee drinkers, Tim Hortons is not only a necessity, but has become part of the Canadian cultural fabric. The first Tim Hortons coffee shop opened in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario, selling only coffee and donuts. Let’s take a look at the building that housed the start of the quintessential evolution towards Canadian coffee greatness.
[photo courtesy of timhortons.com]
Fast-forward to 2014 and here is what a typical Tim Hortons now looks like:
[photo courtesy of bing.com]
For those of you outside the Great White North, “Tim Hortons” was founded by, “Tim Horton” and Jim Charade. Tim Horton was a hockey player (go figure!) which may have been part of the lure to the first restaurant back in 1964. Here is a photo of Tim when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs (which is the team he was with when he opened his first coffee and donut shop):
[photo courtesy of google.com]
Tragically, Tim Horton was killed in a car accident in 1974 in St. Catharines, Ontario. I have often wondered what he would think about his namesake restaurant becoming not only part of the Canadian landscape, but also the phenomenal national treasure it is. I completely understand how those of you who have not experienced the Tim Hortons sensation might be scratching your heads (clearly not whilst holding a filled coffee cup). I suppose I could tell you that a “Timmies” coffee, donut (and by the way, they now have an expansive menu, including soups, sandwiches, muffins, et al.) tastes so darned good that this is why people keep going back for more. No, it has become much more than just the food and drink in and of itself. It’s a shared practice; it has become a bonding experience with those you already know, and even those you don’t know. Simply sitting in a Tim Hortons, or taking your “Timmies” with you and seeing others enjoying it too, somehow permeates a collective understanding.
I must tell you that I was once in the office of a local church minister. I looked up at his wall of photos; proudly displayed was a photo of Tim Horton. The minister was Tim’s best friend. He told me, “I gave the eulogy at my friend Tim’s funeral”. Bless him.
Perhaps you are thinking that I am being ideological about something perceived simply as, “just coffee”.
Here is a lovely example of what I am writing about. The Canadian Forces is so insanely crazy about Tim Hortons coffee that there was a Tim Hortons in Kandahar, Afghanistan where Canadian troops could enjoy a cup of home:
[photo courtesy of vintagewings.ca]
This Tim Hortons location was open from 2006-2011; it closed due to the decrease in the number of Canadian soldiers stationed in Kandahar. However, ‘rumor’ has it there are community groups who continue to send Tim Hortons coffee to those troops who find themselves located thousands of miles (or kilometers) from the nearest Timmies.
My old stomping grounds of Winnipeg, Manitoba is no exception to the Tim Hortons presence. In fact, on any given weekday morning, there is someone directing traffic for the two lines of drive-thru windows at Tim Hortons! I know first-hand the cars can ‘spill’ (yes, pun intended!) into the primary traffic of Portage Avenue (one of Winnipeg’s busiest roads). Oh those Canadians and their Timmies! Here is a photo of a drive-thru at Tim Hortons (in Winnipeg, but not THAT Tim Hortons):
[photo courtesy of bing.com]
Now, getting back to the 50th anniversary celebrations! The fine folks at timhortons.com have a wonderful chart of, ‘all things Tim Hortons’; I’ve included it here for your perusal:
I shall let you ponder the chart for a moment while I sip on my….WAIT! I live in Chicago! There is no Tim Hortons here! Despite the fact there are 817 locations in the good ‘ol US of A, my CHItown is Hortonless.
The Tim Hortons organization is a stupendous leader in community involvement. Tim Hortons has a parent program called, “Making A True Difference”, which includes activities such as, “Children’s Foundation”, Environmental Stewardship, Aboriginal Relations, Animal Welfare, Coffee Partnership, Local Programs (such as the, “Timbits Minor Sports Program”). For more information, please visit: http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/difference/index.html
My dear readers, what would a post about Tim Hortons be without a sweet little moose calf story! Believe it or not, a man from Northern Ontario recently found a dear little moose calf (who had just been born) abandoned and standing on the side of a highway. What did this, marvelous moose protector do? Why, he took it to Tim Hortons to show everyone! The little calf was taken shortly thereafter to an animal shelter! Only in Canada indeed!
[photo courtesy of sunnewsnetwork.ca]
I must mention a little part of Tim Hortons that is near and dear to the hearts (and lips) of many Canadians: “double double”. This, my friends is, in “Hortonspeak” (I just made that up) refers to double cream and double sugar in your coffee. Do not try asking for a double double anywhere else, lest you want the server to sport the moose (er, I mean ‘deer’) in headlights look upon you. My darling husband always delights in going to Canada and heading to Tim Hortons whereby he proudly states, “I will have a double double, PLEASE” (he usually drinks black coffee but enjoys the Canadianishness of it all).
I shall finish this post by saying thank you, Tim Horton. Not only were you a wonderful soul and a good hockey player, you are part of the reason why Canadians have a splendid sense of cohesiveness. Many a late night, early morning, and time in between has been (and no doubt will be) spent pondering and sharing thoughts over a great cup of Timmies. Thank you to the Tim Hortons organization for continuing to serve not only wonderful products, but for providing Canadians with that which we hold so dearly: helping each other one community program, recyclable cup, and environmental stewardship endeavor at a time.
I shall now endeavor to sip my non-Tim Hortons coffee and visualize Tim Hortons coffee beans dancing in my head. Okay that just made me dizzy. I’ll stick with manifesting a Tim Hortons delicious muffin. Ah, much better! 🙂