The first 50-years: A brief history of Tim Hortons

Today, May 17th, 2014, marks Tim Hortons 50th anniversary of the Oakville-based company being in business. This is certainly a milestone and a source of pride for Timmies and for Canada.

Earlier this year, Marc Caira, President and CEO, Tim Hortons stated, “Anniversaries are a time to celebrate the best of the past while working towards the brightest future. Even as the 50th anniversary year begins to unfold, Tim Hortons is hard at work, innovating, working to create the ultimate guest experience and looking toward the next 50 years.”

Instead of a beautifully written essay on Tim Hortons and its glorious past, below are a few brief bullet points with some notable dates that have caused the addiction to last so long:

  • Store number 1 opened in Hamilton on Ottawa Street in 1964 under the name “Tim Horton Donuts”
  • Was founded by Hall of Fame hockey player Miles G.”Tim” Horton (played between 1949 until 1974)
  • 1964: A cup of coffee cost 10 cents
  • 1964: Apple Fritter and the Dutchie were the only two donuts available
  • Met Ron Joyce in 1965 who took over the Hamilton location
  • Joyce entered a franchise partnership with Horton in 1967
  • In 1967, Joyce became a full partner in the business
  • Horton and Joyce expanded to two location by the end of 1967


  • Tim Horton died in a car accident on February 21st, 1974
  • Joyce took over full control of the Tim Hortons brand and bought out the Horton family for $1 million
  • Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation is formed
  • 1976: Timbits are born
  • By December of 1978 Tim Hortons had 100 locations
  • 200 locations by December 1984
  • First US store opened in 1985 on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Buffalo
  • 1986 saw the introduction of Roll Up The Rim
  • 1996 introduced the bagel to the menu
  • 300 locations by February 1987
  • 400 locations by February 1989
  • 500th store in 1991
  • 700 locations by October 1993
  • Tim Hortons and Wendy’s International merged in August 1995
  • 1,000 locations by August 1995
  • 2,000 locations by December 2000
  • 2,500 locations by September 2003
  • March 2006 saw Tim Hortons go public, stock opened at $27/share and raised $700 million
  • Breakfast sandwiches hit the menu fall of 2006
  • End of 2006 say the introduction of the Quickpay Tim Card
  • 3,000 locations by December 2006
  • December 2007 saw the introduction of hash browns and the Bagel B.E.L.T.
  • All ties to ties to Wendy’s officially ended in June 2009
  • Entered into an agreement with Cold Stone Creamery in 2009
  • Tim Hortons entered the United Arab Emirates in 2011
  • 2012 saw White Hot Chocolate, Frozen Lemonade arrived on the menu
  • Dark Roast coffee expanded its coffee lineup in 2013
  • Over 4,300 locations in 2013
  • 2014 Tim Hortons is 50, eyes lunchtime menu items, snacking and technology

Some of the taglines that Tim Hortons has used have been “You’ve Always Got Time for Tim Hortons,” “Always Fresh. Always Tim Hortons,” and more recently “It’s Time for Tims.” 

About Ian Hardy

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I'm obsessed with Tim Hortons.It runs through my veins and I've probably spent enough money downing Steeped Tea's that I could have purchased my own franchise.