May 3, 2006


Worshipping at the church of Tim Hortons: The idea Canadians have replaced doxology with doughnuts is less Timmy than tinny (MARK STEYN, 5/03/06, Maclean's)

The other week, the Toronto Star assigned Kenneth Kidd to do a big story on Tim Hortons as an icon of Canadian identity. This was a couple of days before that odd incident with the fellow going into the men's room and blowing himself into a big bunch of Timbits, so nothing tricky was required, just the usual maple boosterism. And naturally the first thing Kidd did was call up the Canadian media's Mister Rent-A-Quote, Michael Adams, the author of Fire And Ice and American Backlash, and a man who can be relied upon to provide some sociological context to the lamest premise.

Mr. Adams evidently thought about the old doughnut-chain thing for a nanosecond and then slotted it effortlessly into his grand universal theory about the difference in American and Canadian "values." Canadians are communal and gregarious, while Americans are paranoid and cowering in terror behind the gates of their stockades. "Americans aspire to independence," he told the Star's man. "Their model is to drive out of town, Gary Cooper with Grace Kelly, and get on their ranch and she's in the kitchen and having babies and he's standing at the ranch gate with a gun, saying, 'no trespassing.' "

Really? Is that in the director's cut? No matter. This turned out to be just the sort of thing Kenneth Kidd needed for the piece and he ran with it: "Canadians, by contrast, are far less fearful," he decides. "Americans now increasingly use churches as their replacement for a sense of community lost to long working hours and lengthy commutes."

I don't know if, in the course of their research, Messrs. Kidd and Adams ever visited any "communities" -- in, say, New England, or old England, or Belgium, or Slovenia, or even Canada. But, if they did, they might have noticed that you drive through the outskirts of the "community," past the various "dwelling units," and arrive at the centre of the "community" -- often called a "village green" or a "town square" -- and smack dab at the centre of the centre you'll see a big building with a cross on it, and perhaps a sign saying "St. George's Parish Church. Consecrated 1352." Nonetheless, undaunted, two grown men are willing to argue in the Toronto Star that Americans have to make do with going to church because they've lost all sense of community.

But not in Canada. "We don't go to church as much on Sundays," says Adams. "We go shopping and we go to Tim's." Gotcha. Americans are forced to worship Christ, whereas Canadians are free to worship crullers.

The even more curious thing is that Canadians may be worshipping just as much or more as in the past but not in community settings, the exact opposite of their argument even about their own country.

Though, on the other hand, maybe they really do worship the place,
Tims priced like ‘icon'
(ANDY HOFFMAN, 5/04/06, Globe and Mail)

A trio of new research reports on Tim Hortons Inc. adds credence to the belief that Canadian investors are willing to pay more than Americans for a piece of the iconic coffee and doughnut chain. [...]

At 22.8 times next year's projected earnings, CIBC said Tims shares are “priced like an icon” and well ahead of its mature fast-food peers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 3, 2006 11:05 PM

Nothing wierd about it. Canadians are polite.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 3, 2006 11:30 PM

But when Canada's version of the obesity police finally turn their calorie-counting eyes to Tim Horton's, what will happen to Canada's secular communal nature?

Posted by: John at May 3, 2006 11:37 PM

Mark Steyn:

I seem to have wandered a long way from the Timbit Nation, but not really: as the pieties of late 20th-century progressivism crumble like a stale cruller, their defenders take refuge in self-deception, trumpeting defects as virtues, to the point where a man cradling his coffee alone in a doughnut shop on a Sunday morning is a stronger affirmation of community than a packed church. Oh well. If there's an emptiness at the heart of the advanced social-democratic state, at least Canada's worshipping the doughnut; Europe's worshipping the hole.

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 4, 2006 6:59 AM

I swear to You Know Who that I'm going to pull out my very American and distinctly non-Canadian gun if I have to read one more article by the beautiful Starbucks (owned by the rapacious Yankee trader)people on the cultural signifigance of Tim Horton's (owned by the peace-loving, compassionate Canucks). They would die rather than be seen in one.

Posted by: Peter B at May 4, 2006 7:46 PM