The name Ron Joyce may not be as immediately recognizable Alfred Peet or the growing-more-sullied-by-the-minute Howard Schultz, at least on the south side of the Canadian border, but it plays no less a role in the popularity of coffee in North America. Starting as the first franchisee working alongside co-founder and NHL hockey player Tim Horton—whom, as per a note from our website's founders, “could get it“—Joyce started with a single shop in 1964, “[knowing] ‘zero’ about making doughnuts when he went in for his first shift,” quoth the CBC.
10 years later, after Horton’s death in a car crash, Joyce took over full ownership of the business, building it into the billion-dollar global brand it is today. There are currently over 4,500 locations worldwide, not including the scheduled 1,500 new storefronts planned to open in China over the next decade.
Robert Thompson, the co-author of Joyce’s autobiography tells of the indispensable role Joyce played in creating the Tim Hortons brand:
We probably won't see that kind of invention — somebody just create something that has such broad appeal across Canada that's so instantaneously relatable to the Canadian experience. We just don't see that now, and we probably won't see it again. And so in that regard, he's a legend.
In a statement released by the family, Joyce is said to have passed on peacefully in his Burlington, Ontario home surrounded by loved ones.
Top image via Tim Hortons