Moncton still Tim Hortons capital of Canada
Monctonians' love affair with iconic Canadian franchise goes way back.
Walk into any Tim Hortons in Moncton, and you'll see many of the same faces every day.
Just ask anyone how long — and how often — they've been coming to Tim's.
"Oh, quite the few years," said Ken Teakles. "Every day pretty well. It's a good place for the seniors to come, eh? And that's where they come and talk and have their coffee. People meet."
"Way back!" said Dawson Roberts. "To the day when we had the little stools in the front! So we're going back a long time, back in the 70s."
Businesses have come and gone, competitors have set up shop — often right next door, yet somehow, the Canadian icon has survived through thick and thin and remained the undisputable local favourite.
There are now 36 locations in southeast New Brunswick — soon to be 37 with the opening of a store in Saint-Louis-de-Kent, a village with a population of just above 900, possibly the smallest ratio of people for one Tim Hortons.
Moncton's urban area alone has 26 locations, serving a population a little above 100,000, which is still the most Tims per capita in the country, even beating the chain's birthplace of Hamilton, Ont.
So why Moncton?
Olivier Mesly, a consumer behaviour expert at Sackville's Mount Allison University, said everywhere you drive in Moncton, you see a Tim Hortons.
"You can't escape remembering there's a place for you to stop and have a coffee," said Mesly. "They really create that bond. There's a sense of homeness and security."
Mesly said as the years went by, that special bond has been passed on by parents to their children.
"They grow with that identity. This has been going on in Moncton for years," said Mesly
Moncton's first Tim Hortons opened in 1974 at 1166 Mountain Road, exactly ten years after the country's first store in Hamilton.
Craig O'Neill owns that shop, along with the 36 other locations in southeast New Brunswick, a Maritime empire started by his father.
"We probably got here just at the right time, when Moncton was starting to expand," said O'Neill. "As Moncton got bigger, we were lucky that people liked this product and they embraced this brand, and we grew with them."
"My dad worked as a baker in Hamilton," said O'Neill. "He wanted to get the opportunity to come out somewhere and start on his own."
When the family moved to New Brunswick, they tried to have at least one Tims in each community.
"We're not a great big city here. And southeast New Brunswick is a region of population sparsity."
"We were here first," said O'Neill. "We're still relevant."