Tim Hortons No. 1 – Hamilton, Ontario - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

Tim Hortons No. 1

The first outlet of Canada's biggest fast-food franchise has been slinging doughnuts since 1964. 

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When National Hockey League player, Miles Gilbert “Tim” Horton, opened this first branch of his first eponymous restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario, on May 17, 1964, no one would have imagined that his name would become as synonymous with Canada as maple leaves, poutine, and hockey itself. Today, the franchise has grown into Canada’s largest fast-food chain, with over 5,000 locations in 15 countries. 

Horton was a Canadian ice hockey defenseman who played professionally for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres. After a brief attempt at hamburgers, Horton founded the fast-food coffee and doughnut chain with business partner Jim Charade. 

The very first Tim Hortons shop remains at its original Hamilton location. In 2014, the building was entirely rebuilt in recognition of the restaurant’s 50th anniversary. The renovation included the addition of a second floor to house a museum of the chain and its founder.

Lest there be any doubt as to the location, the building’s signage proudly declares, “First Restaurant Opened Here May 17, 1964.” Graphics on the retro sign include a cartoon likeness of Tim Horton shooting doughnuts with a hockey stick. Completing the renovation was the addition of a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of Tim Horton, in full hockey gear, in front of the store to greet visitors.

The second-floor museum has six rooms representing different decades of the restaurant’s history. The first room is a reproduction of an original Tim Hortons dining room, circa 1964, complete with a vintage cash register and Formica counters. Racks of doughnuts from the chain’s past fill the display cabinets, including replicas of two of the ever-popular original doughnuts, the Apple Fritter and the Dutchie. 

The museum contains furnishings, tableware, ephemera, uniforms, paper products, and memorabilia from Tim Hortons of yore, as well as mementos that highlight Horton’s Hamilton roots and his Hall of Fame hockey career. Best of all, one can enjoy the displays while munching a fresh Honey Dip and sipping a Double-Double.

Know Before You Go

Tim Hortons No. 1 is open daily and entrance to the museum area is free.

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January 19, 2023

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