CBC Digital Archives

Tim Hortons: 'Ron Joyce has a story to tell'

Are the words "Timbit" and "double-double" part of your vocabulary? If the answer is yes, you must be Canadian. Despite the fact that it was bought by an American company in 1995, Tim Hortons seems to have injected itself into the centre of our Canadian identity. Started as a small doughnut shop owned by hockey legend Tim Horton, there are now more than 3,000 Tim Hortons locations. CBC Digital Archives looks at the evolution of Tim’s.

"Ron Joyce has a story to tell, and he's past the point of pulling punches," says Nova Scotia reporter Jim Nunn. He's interviewing the 76-year-old retired Tim Hortons co-founder at Joyce's property in Fox Harbour, N.S. Joyce talks about the "chaotic" early days of the chain when they didn't even have recipes for the doughnuts. He also recalls the night his business partner and friend Tim Horton died in a tragic car crash, and defends himself against the allegation that he "stole" the company from Horton's widow.
• Ron Joyce was born in Tatamagouche, N.S., in 1930. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1951, and in 1956 he moved to Hamilton and became a police officer. He left the police force and bought the franchise for the first "Tim Horton's Do-nuts" on Ottawa Street in Hamilton in 1965 (the store had been in operation since 1964). By 1967, with three stores now in the chain, Joyce became a full partner in the business with Tim Horton. • The year after Horton's death, Joyce bought out Horton's widow Lori's half of the business for $1 million. There were 40 stores in operation at the time, and the entire chain was valued at around $1.7 million in an independent audit. More than a decade later, after the chain had gone through explosive growth under Joyce's leadership, Lori Horton brought Joyce to court saying she deserved more. She believed her drug and alcohol dependence in the 1970s had clouded her judgement and that Joyce took advantage of her. She was asking for half of the company back, plus $10 million.

• In 1993, a judge ruled that Joyce had dealt with Lori Horton fairly, since nobody could have foreseen in 1975 that the Tim Hortons chain would become so immensely successful years later. Lori Horton's appeal was declined in 1995.

• In an odd turn of events, Ron Joyce's son, Ron Jr., married Tim and Lori Horton's daughter Jeri-Lyn. The couple currently owns and operates a Tim Hortons store in Cobourg, Ont.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Nov. 8, 2006
Guest(s): Ron Joyce
Interviewer: Jim Nunn
Duration: 6:36

Last updated: January 31, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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