Whilst I am enjoying the Canadian summer (take about twenty American degrees from whatever the temperature is where you are), The GBOAT will feature Canadian themed posts. Maybe you’ll learn something but probably not.
Canadians don’t typically get pissed off.
It’s honestly quite difficult to anger a Canadian. Not to annoy, or irritate one, like a grain of sand to an oyster. No, to totally anger a Canadian takes a highly concentrated and dedicated effort.
Or, you could just say one bad thing about Tim Hortons.
Tim Hortons is as Canadian as the Queen, comparable to how Americans feel about apple pie and how Italians feel about their soccer team falling over and crying: it is a part of their identity. Even Canadians who don’t necessarily love Timmy Ho’s will defend the place fiercely, as it is the truest part of their Canadian heritage.
Truth be told, it’s a bit of an odd thing to feel so strongly about. It’s a fairly simple place, with nothing really standing out. Somehow, a cultural icon has been built around a nucleus of mediocre coffee and doughnut holes called Timbits. It’s like a Canadian Dunkin’ Doughnuts, but with an entire nation willing to die in its defense.
Yet what makes Tim Hortons so beloved is the fact that it isn’t complicated, and isn’t necessarily elaborate. It doesn’t particularly stand out, which fits the Canadian mindset awfully well. Timmy Ho’s does a few things, does it decently, and is perfectly content with that.
Simply put, Timmy Ho’s, like Canada itself, doesn’t really bother anybody, and they’re all fine with that.
The environment in a Tim Hortons is also interesting, because it’s simultaneously the type of place where you would expect to see an old grizzled working class man and a group of businessmen in full suits. You would expect to see a hockey player and the Prime Minister, all gathering in the most wonderful of working class environments.
Why? Because that IS Canada. And that IS the Canadian people: from bottom to top, they are epitomized by being solid, hard working people.
What would be the working class place in America? McDonald’s, right? And it would be the place that other countries would look at and associate with America. Yet, in America, nobody takes pride in McDonald’s. Why? Because it’s nothing special. It’s everywhere, and it’s not necessarily all that great. Because it’s McDonald’s, and chances are, you jumped to several conclusions about the place just by reading the name.
And that right there is the fundamental difference between America and Canada. The place that is everywhere in Canada but not necessarily all that great? That’s the place that Canadians LOVE. While both countries share similar backgrounds in terms of the settling of the New World, America forged an entirely different course than Canada did.
America is still convinced that it stays true to its roots. After all, the US was built on a self-made man mentality. We admired those who worked hard and were gritty. It’s the reason Americans love football, not soccer. We’re pretty sure we’re still living the type of lives that made Bruce Springsteen write music.
Yet in reality, Americans aren’t like that at all. We’re a country that was built upon that, but then everything the self-made man earned was handed down to slightly spoiled children. Then those spoiled children handed stuff down to even more spoiled children and so on and so forth until we somehow became a country that worshiped the trust fund. Heck, Americans got so caught up in instant gratification and excess and we let the title of “Most Popular Rapper” go from guys who were raised on the streets straight to, you guessed it, a guy from Toronto who starred in the Canadian Dawson’s Creek.
Tim Hortons is so popular in Canada because it embodies the Canadian spirit. Canadians are proud of being a culture full of working class people: The type of people that Americans still think we are, when our identity is really found in the fact that we willingly eat Baconators.
The thing about Canadian culture is that they know who they are. They won’t be a powerhouse on the world stage, and that’s fine. Give them hockey, Canadian beer, and the band Rush, and they’re fine with that. Because that’s all Canadians need. They can look at who they are and say, “It’s not much, but at least we’re not snooty like the British, or extravagant like the Americans.”
And then they’ll go grab some Timmy Ho’s.
11 thoughts on “Tim Hortons”
Pretty true. Although I don’t care for generalizations, it sums us up pretty well. And you buttered us up pretty well, with all that highspeak of “hard-working” and other blush-worthy superlatives.
I’m one of those who you mentioned, who doesn’t actually like Tim’s. But that said, it is still a sigh of relief to see those glowing red signs once again, after traveling south-side, any time. It’s “home.”
Yeah, I was trying to make it very, very general. And since I’m American, I’m probably way off. But hey, I’m trying to understand.
Are you secretly Canadian?
Also, I was just in Wendy’s yesterday, and I noticed they now have both the Baconator AND Son of Baconator. I’m concerned that eventually the Wendy’s menu will look like that of Canadian A&Ws, where the burgers are related.
Yeah, I hope this didn’t come across as sounding anti-American. Trust me, I am all ABOUT some excess! I order my Baconators with extra bacon!
As a funny little country, Canada has really only one highway (Highway 1, naturally) and I find myself driving about half of it at least once a year. It\’s like Tim Hortons and all of the provincial Ministry of Transportation offices got together and said \”Let\’s space a couple hundred Tim Hortons along Highway 1 (aka The Trans Canada Hwy) at highly specific intervals so that whether travelling east or west, weary Canadians will be welcomed by a clean and warm coffee shop; always nearly identical in all ways, always open 24/7, always fresh.\”
Then the Tim Hortons execs added, \”Oh yeah, let\’s also sponsor a couple million kids every season to play hockey and soccer and go to camp. Let\’s even give them all shirts that say \’Timbits\’ on them and when they (inevitably) go into a Tim Hortons after their activity, they can lift the bottom of their shirt/jersey up and reveal to the visored server the timeless words: \’I just played and I\’m thirsty!\’ and with that score themselves smiles all around and a free drink.\”
For those reasons, and the over-the-top cheesy commercials they run that reduce any Canadian male who ever laced up skates to a sobbing mess of tears during Hockey Night in Canada, Tim Hortons is sacred to us Northerners.
Hey, those TimBits are pretty darn good if you ask me.
I haven’t tried them yet! I need to, but I don’t often get to go to places up here that serve gluten, due to the Tiny native who accompanies me.
I think Amanda needs to respond to all your Canada posts.
Pretty spot on, Mr. Craven. Could you work medicare in there? And peacekeepers?
You should send this in as an op-ed to some Canadian papers. Yes, I’m serious. But if you’re one of those people who take offense at someone saying “I should”, I’m sorry. Because I’m Canadian.
Yep, Tim Horton’s is an institution up here.
And I belong in an institution…
Great post, eh? I love that found even more Canuck truths in the comments that follow it. Recognized myself and millions like me and I’ll be darned if I’ve got a hankering for a coffee now. Good thing there are 7 to choose from in my city of 50,000….