Tim Horton

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Tim Horton
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1977
TimHorton 03.jpg
Horton in 1965
Born (1930-01-12)January 12, 1930
Cochrane, Ontario, Canada
Died February 21, 1974(1974-02-21) (aged 44)
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defenceman
Shot Right
Played for Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Rangers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Buffalo Sabres
Playing career 1949–1974

Miles Gilbert "Tim" Horton (January 12, 1930 – February 21, 1974) was a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman, playing 24 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres. He was also a businessman, and co-founder of Tim Hortons.

Early years[edit]

Tim Horton was born in Cochrane, Ontario, at Lady Minto Hospital. His parents were Aaron Oakley Horton (a Canadian National Railway mechanic) and Ethel Horton. Tim had one brother, Gerry Horton.[1][2]

His father of English descent, and mother of Irish descent, the Hortons moved in 1935 to Duparquet, Quebec, returning in 1938 to Cochrane. In 1945, Tim and his family moved to Sudbury, Ontario.

Playing career[edit]

Tim Horton grew up playing ice hockey in Cochrane, and later in mining country near Timmins. The Toronto Maple Leafs organization signed him; in 1948 he moved to Toronto to play junior hockey and attended St. Michael's College School.

Two years later, he turned pro with the Leafs' farm team, the Pittsburgh Hornets of the American Hockey League; he spent most of the first three seasons with Pittsburgh. Playing in his first NHL game on March 26, 1950, Horton did not appear in the NHL again until the fall of 1952. He remained a Leaf until 1970, winning four Stanley Cups. Horton later played for the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. Horton was known for his tremendous strength and calmness under pressure. As a hard-working and durable defenceman, Horton gained relatively few penalty minutes for an enforcer-type defenceman. Horton was also an effective puck carrier – in 1964–65 he played right wing for the Leafs. Horton appeared in six National Hockey League All-Star Games. He was named an NHL First Team All-Star three times: (1964, 1968, and 1969). He was selected to the NHL Second Team three times: (1954, 1963, 1967).

Between February 11, 1961, and February 4, 1968, Horton appeared in 486 consecutive regular-season games; this remains the Leafs club record for consecutive games and was the NHL record for consecutive games by a defencemen until broken on February 8, 2007, by Karlis Skrastins. This is remarkable because on March 12, 1955, he suffered both a broken leg and jaw after being checked by Bill Gadsby of the Rangers. The injuries were so severe he missed much of the following season, causing some doubt Horton would ever again play professional hockey.

Horton had a reputation for enveloping players fighting him, in a crushing bear hug. Boston Bruins winger Derek Sanderson once bit Horton during a fight; years later, Horton's widow, Lori, still wondered why. "Well," Sanderson replied, "I felt one rib go, and I felt another rib go, so I just had—to, well, get out of there!"[citation needed]

While playing, Horton was generally acknowledged as the strongest man in the game; injuries and age were little more than minor inconveniences. Chicago Blackhawks winger Bobby Hull declared, "There were defencemen you had to fear because they were vicious and would slam you into the boards from behind, for one, Eddie Shore. But you respected Tim Horton because he didn't need that type of intimidation. He used his tremendous strength and talent to keep you in check."

In 1962, he scored three goals and 13 assists in 12 playoff games, setting a Leafs team record for playoff points by a defenceman. This record was tied in 1978 by Ian Turnbull (who played 13 games); but was not broken until 1994, when David Ellett registered 18 points (albeit in 18 games).

In 1972, in spite of his age, 42 years old at the time, and suffering from considerable nearsightedness, former Leafs general manager Punch Imlach signed Horton to the Sabres. In 1973, his performance assisted the Sabres in their first playoff appearance. Subsequently, Horton signed a contract extension in the off-season.[3]

While playing for the Leafs, Horton wore the number 7, the same number worn by King Clancy from 1931–32 to 1936–37. The team declared both Horton and Clancy honoured players at a ceremony on November 21, 1995, but did not retire the number 7 from team use; instead, it became an Honoured Jersey Number,[4][5] abiding by Leafs honours policy.[6] Horton wore number 2 in Buffalo (as Rick Martin already had the number 7), which was retired.

Horton believed he took too many early career penalties because of his "hot temper".

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular Season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1947–48 St. Michael's Majors OHA 32 6 7 13 137
1948–49 St. Michael's Majors OHA 32 9 18 27 95
1949–50 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 1 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 2
1949–50 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL 60 5 18 23 83
1950–51 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL 68 8 26 34 129 13 0 9 9 16
1951–52 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 4 0 0 0 8
1951–52 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL 64 12 19 31 146 11 1 3 4 16
1952–53 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 2 14 16 85
1953–54 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 7 24 31 94 5 1 1 2 4
1954–55 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 67 5 9 14 84
1955–56 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 35 0 5 5 36 2 0 0 0 4
1956–57 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 6 19 25 72
1957–58 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 53 6 20 26 39
1958–59 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 5 21 26 76 12 0 3 3 16
1959–60 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 3 29 32 69 10 0 1 1 6
1960–61 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 57 6 15 21 75 5 0 0 0 0
1961–62 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 10 28 38 88 12 3 13 16 16
1962–63 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 6 19 25 69 10 1 3 4 10
1963–64 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 9 20 29 71 14 0 4 4 20
1964–65 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 12 16 28 95 6 0 2 2 13
1965–66 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 6 22 28 76 4 1 0 1 12
1966–67 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 8 17 25 70 12 3 5 8 25
1967–68 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 69 4 23 27 82
1968–69 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 74 11 29 40 107 4 0 0 0 7
1969–70 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 59 3 19 22 91
1969–70 New York Rangers NHL 15 1 5 6 16 6 1 1 2 28
1970–71 New York Rangers NHL 78 2 18 20 57 13 1 4 5 14
1971–72 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 44 2 9 11 40 4 0 1 1 2
1972–73 Buffalo Sabres NHL 69 1 16 17 56 6 0 1 1 4
1973–74 Buffalo Sabres NHL 55 0 6 6 53
NHL totals 1446 115 403 518 1611 126 11 39 50 183

Doughnut industries[edit]

In 1964, Horton opened his first Tim Horton Doughnut Shop in Hamilton, Ontario on Ottawa Street.[7] He even added a few of his culinary creations to the initial menu. By 1967, Horton had become a multi-million dollar franchise system. Horton's previous business ventures included both a hamburger restaurant and Studebaker auto dealership in Toronto.

Upon Horton's death in 1974, his business partner, Ron Joyce, bought out the Horton family's shares for $1 million and took over as sole owner of the existing chain of 40 stores.

Today, in addition to over 3,000 locations in Canada, there are over 556 Tim Hortons Doughnut Shops in the United States, and they can be found in Michigan, Ohio, New York, Maine, Pennsylvania, and other American states, mainly in the Northeast and the Great Lakes region. There was also a Tim Hortons on the Kandahar Canadian Military base in Afghanistan until late 2011. There are also a number of Tim Hortons in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In November 2011, Tim Horton's opened up the first of several locations in the UAE, in Abu Dhabi at Mushrif Mall.

Ron Joyce's son married Horton's daughter, returning the Horton family to the company.

Death and aftermath[edit]

Horton died in a motor vehicle accident in the early morning of February 21, 1974, after losing control of his white De Tomaso Pantera sports car on the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) in St. Catharines, Ontario.[8] He had played a game in Toronto the previous evening against his former team, the Maple Leafs, and was driving alone to Buffalo, New York, 160 km (99 mi) south. The Sabres had lost the game, and despite sitting out the third period and playing with a jaw and ankle injury, Horton was selected one of the game's three stars.[9]

Horton's Pantera had been given to him by Sabres' manager Punch Imlach as an enticement to return to the team for one more season.[10]

On his way to Buffalo, Horton stopped at his office in Oakville, and was met there by Ron Joyce.[10][11] While there, Horton phoned his brother Garry, who recognized that Tim had been drinking and tried to convince him not to leave. As well, Joyce offered to have Horton stay with him. Horton chose to continue his drive to Buffalo.[11]

After 4:00 am, a woman reported to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Burlington that she had observed a car traveling at a high rate of speed on the QEW. A warning was broadcast over police radio. At 4:30 am, OPP Officer Mike Gula observed a speeding vehicle traveling Niagara-bound on the QEW in Vineland. Gula activated his siren and attempted to pursue Horton's vehicle, but lost sight of it.[11][12]

Horton passed a curve in the road at Ontario Street and was approaching the Lake Street exit in St. Catharines when he lost control and drove into the centre grass median, where his tire caught a recessed sewer and then flipped several times before coming to a stop on its roof in the Toronto-bound lanes. Not wearing a seatbelt, Horton was ejected 60 m (200 ft) from the car. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.[8][12]

After the accident, police denied that Horton was driving drunk. His autopsy was not made public, and there was no official public inquiry.[13] In 2005, the autopsy was made public (with witness statements redacted) and revealed that Horton's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and that a half-filled vodka bottle was amongst the crash debris. Horton was also in possession of the drugs Dexedrine (a stimulant) and Dexamyl (a stimulant-sedative), and traces of amobarbital (an ingredient in Dexamyl) were found in his blood. The autopsy report found no painkillers in Horton's body, and also concluded that his car had been in good working order. There was nothing to suggest Horton was evading police, or that police got near enough to initiate a criminal pursuit.[8][13] Horton was interred at York Cemetery in Toronto.[14]

Soon after Horton's death, Ron Joyce offered Lori Horton (Tim's widow) $1 million for her shares in the chain, which included 40 stores. Accepting his offer, Joyce became sole owner. Years later, Mrs. Horton decided the deal was unfair, and took the matter to court. In 1993, Mrs. Horton lost the lawsuit; an appeal was declined in 1995. Lori died in 2000.[15] Tim and Lori left four daughters: Jeri-Lyn (Horton-Joyce), Traci (Simone), Kim, and Kelly. Jeri-Lyn married Ron Joyce's son Ron Joyce Jr. and owns a store in Cobourg Ontario.

Awards and achievements[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tim Horton". Mysteriesofcanada.com. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  2. ^ Hunter, Douglas (9 October 2012). Double Double: How Tim Hortons Became a Canadian Way of Life, One Cup at a Time. HarperCollins. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-4434-0675-8. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Bailey, Budd (2010-06-04). This day in Buffalo sports history: a toast. The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
  4. ^ CBC Sports (2009-01-31). "Doug Gilmour honoured by Maple Leafs". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  5. ^ "Toronto Mapleleafs - Alumni - Toronto Maple Leafs - Team". Mapleleafs.nhl.com. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  6. ^ John Iaboni. ""Honoured Players Process Different For Leafs" in Leafs Game Day, Issue No. 3, 2005-06". Toronto Maple Leafs. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  7. ^ Cole, Stephen (2006). The Canadian Hockey Atlas. Doubleday Canada. ISBN 978-0-385-66093-8 (0-385-66093-6) Check |isbn= value (help). 
  8. ^ a b c "Tim Horton Autopsy Police Report and Other Docs". Glen McGregor. February 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ Shea, Kevin (December 13, 2002). "One on One With Tim Horton". Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum. 
  10. ^ a b Iorfida, Chris (February 21, 2013). "Remembering Tim Horton". CBC. 
  11. ^ a b c Griggs, Tim; Horton, Lori (1997). In Loving Memory: A Tribute to Tim Horton. ECW Press. 
  12. ^ a b Popplewell, Brett (December 25, 2013). "Greatest Maple Leafs: No. 7 Tim Horton". Sportsnet. 
  13. ^ a b McGregor, Glen (February 20, 2011). "The Tim Horton Autopsy: Canada's Most Famous Drunk Driver". Ottawa Citizen. 
  14. ^ "Tim Horton (1930 - 1974) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  15. ^ "Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  16. ^ "Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame". 

External links[edit]