Tim Hortons shouldn’t be ‘quintessentially Canadian’

Photo by Analyn Cuarto

Photo by Analyn Cuarto

For such low-quality food, Timmies gets too much free marketing

By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer


When you stop and think about it, it’s creepy how much Tim Hortons is associated with Canadian identity. It’s a billion-dollar company that is well-known for crappy donuts and coffee. It’s not even an entirely Canadian company, being part of a Frankenstein’s Monster-like fusion of itself, Burger King, and Popeyes, all owned by a Brazilian investment firm since 2014. That fact that a company like this can tap into Canadian patriotism and exploit it for marketing is unsettling, especially when it’s not even their advertising doing it. Ordinary Canadians and people abroad still see Timmies as being as Canadian as maple leaves, nationalized healthcare, and disgruntled Francophones.

I can see how Timmies got to be where it is in our national identity. It was founded by a hockey player, it supports hockey leagues and Scouts Canada, it existed only within our borders for most of its history, and there’s always a restaurant somewhere nearby, no matter where you go. It’s no surprise, then, that Tim Hortons is both popular and a Canadian stereotype—but it’s still just another food corporation with low-quality products and strictly minimum-wage employees. It isn’t the kind of thing that needs or deserves the free marketing we give it, and it shouldn’t get away with the creepily nationalistic campaigns it runs endlessly.

A lot of Canadians like to make fun of the US for its uber-patriotism. Reciting the pledge of allegiance in elementary school, putting stars and stripes on everything, being extremely touchy over depictions of the flag and national anthem abroad—it’s all unnecessary to the point of being humourous. However, Tim Hortons can cover their coffee cups in maple leaves and make inspiring commercials about “what it means to be Canadian,” usually with footage of people jumping into lakes at sunset, and almost nobody bats an eye. It’s the exact kind of jingoism that America practices so unhealthily, and it’s bad when we do it, too. If you want an example for why nationalism is bad even for little old Canada, just look at when the War of 1812 centennial celebrations were going on in 2012. The misinformation spread in that campaign (no, Canadians didn’t burn down the White House or win the war) is going to stick around for ages. Us being quaint and relatively nice on the international stage doesn’t mean we should believe our own hype.

This could all just be the disgruntled ramblings of someone who worked as a “baker” at Tim Hortons for a year—in quotations because everything was frozen and microwaved. I just don’t see how it could be healthy to hand over such a large chunk of our national identity to a corporation, which in the end will only ever care about the bottom line. A culture is a huge thing to give control up to something like that. Ultimately, though, I think our standards just need to be higher. There are better things to celebrate in Canada than Timmies.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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