Every Canadian knows it.
Tim's has gone from being a widely-loved Canadian-spirited bakery to a mere shell of that memory. Their coffee comes behind McDonald's in taste tests, the food is of the lowest grade and sickening, and they continue to push their empty "hey look we're Canadian therefore you owe it to yourself and your nation to go to Tim's, because you're Canadian, right?" messaging.
It disturbs me greatly that this company, propped up completely by an exploitation of Canadian identity, can be so widely popular with tourists and unsuspecting Canadians - when the experience is absolute garbage.
Tim's Isn't Canadian
"Why do you care so much?", I hear someone ask in the back.
Yes, Tim Horton's is just a dumb fast food chain and in reality this doesn't matter all that much. However, I believe they are dragging the Canadian identity through the mud, and that really bothers me.
Tim's is about as Canadian as Burger King.
Tim Hortons touts themselves as being a "wholesome Canadian bakery brand" when in reality they live out no values that would otherwise make it a truly great "Canadian" company.
Now, one could argue that the definition of being Canadian is blurry - and that's a fair point. If you asked any number of Canadians oot and aboot what it means to be Canadian, you would likely not get the same answers. However, I like to think that being Canadian prides it's citizens with being a little tough and rugged when it's minus a million outside, offering them some sense of humility and honesty.
Now, I am more-so imagining an honest, rural Canadian when thinking about the Canadian image. As for larger metropolitan cities, those cities try to LARP as Seattle, LA, or NY - and lack some of that humbling Canadian spirit, but that's just my opinion. I'm talking about that beautiful sense of community when there's so many polar bears in your town that you leave your car unlocked so that other fellow Canadians can take refuge.
To go a step further, as a result of Tim's faux-Canadian facade, this propagandistic corporation has become a hotbed for tourists. In my modest hometown of Kelowna, BC (population ~200k residents), our small airport and plaza has not 1, but 4 Tim Hortons. Somehow, there are enough tourists who want to "experience Canadian cuisine and culture" that 4 of the same restaurant no more than a stone's throw apart from each other can successfully stay in business.
Hear me out. Imagine you're visiting Canada from somewhere abroad and you've been saving up for quite some time. You've anxiously waited and now you've finally arrived, and oh what's that? a Tim Horton's in the Airport!? Oh joy! Finally, my great Canadian experience is coming alive and I want to enjoy all the flavours Canadians have to offer. You belly-up to the counter, order their standard coffee black (big mistake, bucko), you order their latest grilled-chicken-and-whatever-the-hell-flatbread-tostada-deluxe (seriously why are they always trying to re-invent sandwiches, just make one good sandwich), and a donut for good measure. You pay, and they hand you your coffee as you go to sit down at an empty table that still has crumbs on it, but less crumbs than the other tables do. You take a cautious sip of your 100 degree coffee and it tastes like black nothing, but you brush it off as just from being too hot. A few minutes pass, and an employee brings out your sandwich and donut on plates, on a tray. "Why do I need a tray if I have plates", you ponder. You inspect the sandwich. It looks sad in that special way that all fast food sandwiches look sad and nothing like their picture. Lifting up the top slice of bread, you notice pale iceberg lettuce so devoid of nutrients that it's no longer green but instead off-white and hard. The tomato is pale too, slimy on the inside. The cheese appears to be somewhere between a Kraft single and something better. You forgot or failed to notice your sandwich had bacon on it when you ordered it ("is that why it was $8?", you ask yourself), and it appears to be not too different from the instant, microwave bacon you've seen in supermarkets. "I'm sure it will taste great, after all, it's made by honest Canadians with quality Canadian ingredients, right?", you convince yourself. You didn't get it grilled and begin to regret that fact once your fingers sense the cold, grey bread for a second time. You take a bite. It is precisely at this point you begin to feel lied to. The chicken is sorry and dry, you failed to notice the lettuce but the tomato has left a sour taste on your tongue. The cheese consistency wasn't what you expected, and now for some reason it's smeared among your gums and stuck in your teeth. "Perhaps this location is lazy", you ask yourself as you exchange glances with someone heading back into the kitchen, "perhaps not all locations are like this". You reach for your coffee, now cooler, and take a more generous sip than before. Hot black sludge has now coated your oesophagus, clearing away the sourness and some of the remaining cheese, you shudder. You consider again how much this meal has costed you, so you finish the sandwich at a moderate pace, washing it down with more tasteless (and somehow simultaneously burnt) black liquid. You remember you bought a donut, and that feels like the life-raft in this sea of culinary disparity. Removing it from its exceedingly loud brown paper bag, you take a bite of your chocolate-glazed pastry, and it's alright at best. Definitely not the greatest donut you've ever had, but it's fairly okay. You finish the donut and grab your tray to leave - and you being to clue in that this is not a nice restaurant where the staff will come collect your plates, but instead you must self-custodialize and bring your tray over to the too-full garbage as the whole experience brings memories flooding back of your high-school cafeteria.
Where to go from here
Let's not leave without a solution here.
First, just stop giving them your patronage, and encourage everyone you love dearly to do the same. We don't need more of them. Instead, spend your money at a local bakery or coffee shop where you'll likely get a more Canadian experience.
Second, stop buying their giftcards. I receive a handful of these every year, and I am grateful for the gift. However, I think that money is better spent at the restaurant ran by our neighbours down the street.
If we stopped supporting garbage fast-food chains and poured more money into our local restaurants, how would our communities look different?