Conversations at "Timmy’s’
Editor’s note: Vail resident Polly Letofsky has been on the road since she left town Aug. 1, 1999, on her mission the become the first woman to walk around the world and promote awareness of breast cancer. From Vail she first walked to the West Coast, then crossed to the two islands of New Zealand, up the eastern coast of Australia and on to Malaysia and Southeast Asia, India, Turkey, Greece, Great Britain and Ireland. She’s now back in the United States, having arrived in New York City, crossed New York State and Pennsylvania and into Canada at Niagra Falls. She’s expected to reach Vail sometime this year. This is a recent installment from her journal, written in Ontario in June. You can follow along with Polly’s journey on her Web site, http://www.globalwalk.org.
GRIMSBY, Ontario – Tim Hortons coffee shops serve as my roaming office in Canada.
I see their red sign in the foreground and I know it’s time for a rest and a bowl of chili, maybe some phone calls or a good read of the Toronto Star to get caught up on SARS, West Nile, mad cow disease … and war.
A nice perk is that you never have to buy your own Toronto Star in a Timmy’s because the 6 a.m.-ers always leave them behind for us 10 a.m.-ers.
A national treasure
Timmy’s is Canada’s answer to England’s pubs and America’s diners, a place where locals go for a “cuppa jo,” a read of the paper and a conversation with neighbors and strangers.
Like the old man on my left who starts telling me all about the history of Tim Hortons. He tells me Tim Horton was an All-Star professional hockey player back in the 1960s and ’70s who had started a few coffee houses in Ontario. One night he was driving home to Buffalo from a game in Toronto – on this very road we’re on now – in his speedy little red sports car and crashed and killed himself and left behind the beginnings of a coffee shop empire to his wife and business partner.
In Canada, apparently, if you put together a young handsome hockey player with a tragic demise, you’ve got eternal support, and Tim Hortons franchises have been popping up like popcorn all over the country ever since.
The guy on the other side of me interjects, saying Tim Hortons is the most beloved of all fast-food joints in Canada. There are more than 2,000 of them, far surpassing McDonalds.
It’s nothing like McDonalds, of course. That market is covered. “Timmy’s” has things like chicken noodle soup and tuna or chicken sandwiches with all the goodies, like lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard.
I only know that by looking at the menu because I always get the chili. The chili is the best. You can get the Timmy’s Chili Deal with your choice of a donut or two cookies and a small coffee, but I don’t take those particular drugs. When I tell them, “no thank you, just the chili, please, hold the donut, h