April 14, Y2k-1

In a previous installment, I had let known that my friends and I had once planned to create the Church of Tim Hortons. Among the many reasons why such a venture would be a success was the fact that there was already a shrine to Mr. Tim Horton in every store.

That was when every Tim Hortons contained a portrait of Tim in his full skating regalia.

But not anymore.

I've been told that originally, Tim's donut shop portraits had him in dressed in a Buffalo Sabre's uniform, even though his greatest days were with those with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This was because the Toronto Maple Leafs refused permission for Tim to use the Maple Leaf uniform for such a commercial purpose. Eventually the Maple Leaf's organization saw the error of their ways and relented. After that, every time you entered a Tim Horton's, you could give a little nod to the hockey player in the blue and white uniform.

The same person who told me that story also told me that the reason why you don't see Tim's portrait in his eponymous donut stores is due to a similar permission kerfuffle.

First, some background:

(Ron) Joyce and Horton became business partners in 1967, although Horton kept playing hockey. By the time Horton was killed in an auto accident in 1974, the two men jointly owned more than 40 doughnut outlets. A year later, Joyce bought out Horton's widow, Lori, for $1 million and a Cadillac Eldorado, a deal that Horton has since attacked in the courts as being unfair. Joyce has won a series of legal battles against Lori Horton, and he calls the dispute between them, "both unfortunate and unnecessary." Still, she remains bitter. "I'm only happy that Ron Joyce is out. Tim's name is in better hands with Wendy's," she told Maclean's last week.

So while Lori Horton has been unable to win any settlements over her 1975 buyout, she has been granted the right to control the image of her deceased husband. And she has refused to give the Tim Horton donut shop chain permission to Tim's image to sell crullers. Unless, of course, she is properly compensated to her satisfaction. And judging by the lack of portraits in today's Tim Horton, I'm assuming she hasn't been.

Which means she'd probably give my friends and I a hard time if we really did try to start a new religion in the name of Tim Horton.