New Brunswick

Moncton still Tim Hortons capital of Canada

More than four decades after the first Tim Hortons opened in Moncton, the city retains its position as having the most Tims per capita in the country.

Monctonians' love affair with iconic Canadian franchise goes way back.

Owner Craig O'Neill said Moncton is still a small enough place that he sees a lot of regulars at Tims and everybody still kind of knows each other.

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."

Dawson Roberts is a regular at this Tim Hortons on Mountain Rd. He's been coming here as long as he can remember.

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. 

Throwback Thursday: Moncton, the Tim Hortons capital of Canada: 1993

5 years ago
Duration 2:40
CBC's Robert Mersereau takes a look at Moncton's relationship with Tim Hortons. In 1993 it had the most locations per capita in the country, a title it maintains today. 2:40

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

Ken Teakles comes to Tim Hortons every day for a cup of coffee. He says it's a great place for seniors to make friends.

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."

The location at 1166 Mountain Rd. was the first to open in Moncton in 1974. There are now 26 in the greater Moncton area.

"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."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gabrielle Fahmy is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been a journalist with the CBC since 2014.

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