In 1965 Ron Joyce and his wife operated a small
Dairy Queen outlet on Main Street in Hamilton, Ontario. His wife ran
it: he worked there while not on duty with the Hamilton Police Force
One day Ron, 35, showed an advertising salesman a boarded- up gas
station around the corner on Ottawa Street. He said he was resigning
from the police force to open a doughnut/ coffee shop. He explained
how he and NHL hockey star Tim Horton were forming a 50-50
partnership with plans to franchise a chain of doughnut shops under
The salesman urged him not to.
"Ron," he said "you have four kids, a good job, and a
pension waiting down the line."
If you know Ron Joyce you will understand why he would not listen.
He quit the force, opened a Tim Hortons Donut Shop, then another,
then another. And as they say, the rest is history.
It was not all clear sailing for this native of Tatamagouche, Nova
Scotia. When Tim Horton died in a car crash in 1974 they had 40
stores. Ron bought Timís 50 per cent and continued to apply his
operational and marketing genius to grow the company.
He nearly lost it all in the early Ď80s when interest rates climbed
above 20 per cent.
But Ron is a determined survivor, The chain continued growing. When
he sold to Wendyís in 1995 for a reported $600 million there were
1000 stores. Ron remained active with the combined company.
True to his Nova Scotia roots he has developed and owns the world
class Fox Harbír Golf Course in Tatamagouche, where he maintains a
Over coffee in my office in 1997 Ron was beginning to show signs of
weariness with the pressures of business, which included his
partnership in the Calgary Flames. We both had a good laugh when I
reminded him that had he taken my advice in 1965 and remained with
the police force, he would likely be enjoying a comfortable worry