Hamilton in 1964: Not just donuts and coffee

It was also a big year in football, steel and organized crime. Here are five other 1964 Hamilton milestones from the year Tim Hortons was founded.

First-ever Tim Hortons location opened on Ottawa Street North 50 years ago Saturday

The year 1964, when Tim Hortons was founded, wasn't just a big year for coffee and donuts in Hamilton. It was a big year in football, steel and organized crime, among other things, making it a year full of the city's rich history and a year that made a major contribution to many of its enduring characterizations. Here are five other fact about life in Hamilton in 1964.


The Hamilton Tiger Cats made it to the Grey Cup that year as defending champions having won in 1963. They played the B.C. Lions the same team they had beaten in '63, but this time the outcome was different. The Lions beat the Bernie Faloney led Ticats 34-24 in the game played at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.


The Steel Company of Canada renamed its Hamilton operation Hilton Works after Hugh Hilton, who had become company president in 1945. He saw the company through the 1946 strike and tripled the company's size during his decades in charge.

Organized Crime

The 1964 provincial commission on organized crime concluded that organized crime was active in Ontario and had ties to U.S. mafia, after years of denial by top law enforcement and political figures. One of the people the commission named as Mafia and organized crime leaders was Hamilton's John "Pops" Papalia. Papalia was in jail in the United States at the time, caught up in the famous "French Connection" drug bust. 


It was the end of the road for King's Highway 102, one of the first divided highways built in the province and definitely the shortest highway in the province. Now known as Cootes Drive, the four lane divided highway was built in the 1930s as a bypass around Binkley's Hollow between Hamilton and Dundas. In 1964, the province "decomissioned" it as a highway and it became a local road. 

Night life

The Alexandra, a famous and popular roller rink that opened on Christmas Day in 1906 closed down. The James Street South rink had featured skating, dancing and big band music. It was torn down soon after it closed and the Undermount office complex was built on the site.