Yesterday and Today Tim Hortons on Weston Road

By Tim Lambrinos

The name Tim Hortons is synonymous for selling first-rate coffee. The enterprise continues to be one of Canada’s own. People often travel for miles and wait in long lines just for a chance to get some of their own preferred tasteful blend. Of course, ordering coffee and selecting from a list on a screen has changed over the years.

It’s hard, it seems, to place an order for a regular “coffee flavoured” coffee anymore. There are so many numerous varieties to choose from; mocha cappuccino, café mocha, latté supreme, dark roast and so on. This is the way things are today. Yet when former NHL great Tim Horton initially opened his first donut shop in Hamilton, Ontario, consumer demand was not as competitive as it is today.

At the time, donut shops were a primary and acceptable location for customers to smoke tons of cigarettes. Ashtrays were routinely over-filling their containers. Times have certainly changed.

Tim Horton was originally from Cochrane, Ontario and played his junior hockey for St. Michael’s College in Toronto. As a Toronto Maple Leaf in the NHL, he helped the team win four Stanley Cups. His popular donut company began in 1964 when he decided to venture into the commercial/consumer field.

At the time, Horton was generally acknowledged as being the strongest man in the game. Chicago Black Hawks’ star Bobby Hull publicly stated his massive respect on the ice for Horton because of his tremendous strength. In his off-season, Horton decided to take his shot at creating a business that would utilize his already famous name.

Ronald V. Joyce was the original franchisee of the first shop in Hamilton. By 1967, he and Horton had become full partners in the company, and after Tim’s tragic death in a car accident in February of 1974, Ron Joyce became the sole proprietor/owner. These days, Tim Hortons Inc. has resulted in major changes to the Canadian coffee and donut restaurant market.

Many independent donut shops and small chains have been driven out of business, while Canada’s per-capita ratio of donut shops surpasses that of all other countries. Tim Hortons had been concentrated in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. However in recent years, the chain has grown its presence into Quebec and Western Canada.

Its 2010 location in Iqaluit, Nunavut is the northernmost store of the franchise. Tim Hortons opened its first Southeast Asian store in Manila, Philippines in February 2017.

In July 2018, Tim Hortons announced it will open more than 1500 branches in China over the next decade. The franchise is known internationally as Tim Hortons Café and Bake Shop. In our community, Tim Hortons Donuts was one of the first franchises to open.

When a shopping plaza was built on the west side of Weston Road south of Finch in 1974 “Zip Make Your Own Sundae” opened as a location in the plaza. Tim Hortons Donuts replaced the ice cream parlour the following year. Myrna Waddell worked at both businesses. She is now 88 years old and resides in Woodbridge, Ontario. Her daughter Brenda recalled, “Mom used to bring home day-old Tim Horton donuts and in those days all I remember is they smelled like smoke.”

Our closest local Tim Hortons franchise is now located at Rivalda Road and Sheppard and is run by Ralph Shepherd. Shepherd has been in the Tim Hortons donut business for some time now. He actually ran his first Tim Hortons donut shop in nearby Woodbridge. He is originally from St. John’s, New Brunswick before he decided to come to Toronto. His Tim Hortons location at Rivalda is a most popular spot for local consumers.

Ralph Shepherd continues to hold down a spot and is a respected member of the Board of Management of the Emery Village BIA. He continues to support the Emery BIA all while working diligently on behalf of the community at large. And all this while running his own successful Tim Hortons too.