File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Ron Joyce, co-founder of Tim Hortons, sips a coffee in Toronto. Joyce has died at age age 88.

Co-founder of Tim Hortons and philanthropist Ron Joyce dies at age 88

Ron Joyce, who rose from a childhood marked by the Great Depression to co-found the Tim Hortons doughnut chain, has died at the age of 88.

Joyce died Thursday in his Burlington, Ont., home with his family at his side, the family said in a statement.

The cause of death was not immediately clear.

“My father had a big vision and a big heart. Through hard work, determination and drive, he built one of the most successful restaurant chains in Canada,” said Steven Joyce in a statement on behalf of the family.

“He never forgot his humble beginnings.”

Joyce was born in Tatamagouche, N.S., in 1930, with two siblings to follow. The family moved to Westville, N.S., where his father struggled to find construction work due to the ripple effects of the Depression.

His father died in an accident when Joyce was three years old, while his mother was pregnant with their third child.

She moved the family back to Tatamagouche, where she bought a three-room house for $500 — half of the life insurance payment. Her other income came from a $20 monthly widow’s allowance.

The house had no running water, electricity or insulation. A wood burning stove in the middle of the living room provided heat and was used for cooking and baking.

Joyce described this “modest upbringing” in his memoir “Always Fresh: The Untold Story of Tim Hortons.”

He did not complete high school, but left Tatamagouche for Hamilton, where he gained worked in factories, the navy and a police force, according to The Canadian Encyclopedia.

He went on to invest in the first Tim Hortons shop in Hamilton in 1964. He purchased that first restaurant for $10,000. He helped grow it into a successful chain and in 1995, the company opened its 1,000th store.

In 1967, Joyce and Tim Horton, the professional hockey player, became full partners in the company. When Horton died in a car accident in February 1974, Joyce became the sole owner, purchasing his deceased partner’s share.

He sold the chain to Wendy’s International Inc. in 1996. It was later purchased by Burger King and the two brands became Restaurant Brands International in 2014.

“Ron was a larger-than-life friend who not only helped create one of Canada’s most iconic brands but was passionate about ensuring Tim Hortons always gave back to the community,” reads a statement signed from the Tim Hortons team.

His work with charitable organizations will continue to have a lasting legacy for future generations, the statement said.

He helped found the Tim Horton Children’s foundation in 1975 after his business partner died. The foundation pays to send underprivileged children to one of several Tim Hortons camps and runs youth programs. This year, the organization will send more than 19,000 kids to camp, according to its website.

The foundation recently celebrated his commitment with the dedication of a Ronald V. Joyce house at its camp in his birthplace.

Joyce was awarded the Order of Canada in April 1992 for his work with the children’s camp charity.

“His commercial interests are surpassed by his dedication,” to the organization, reads the entry on the Governor General’s website, and “his fundraising efforts and personal involvement ensure that thousands of youngsters enjoy a fun-filled camping experience each year.”

Joyce also founded The Joyce Family Foundation, which focuses on providing access to education for children and youth facing significant financial need or other barriers to success. The foundation has donated more than $185 million since its start.

Joyce’s generosity “has been felt across the country,” said The Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, and its namesake foundation.

Joyce donated $7.5 million to support the hospital’s redevelopment and expansion.

“We have lost a great Canadian and he will be missed,” read the statement from the hospital’s CEO Eric Vandewall and the foundation’s president Anissa Hilborn.

In addition to the Order of Canada, Joyce’s philanthropy earned him numerous awards, including the title of philanthropist of the year from the Burlington Community Foundation and a Canadian Red Cross NS Power of Humanity Award.

After selling Tim Hortons, Joyce moved on to establish the Fox Harb’r Resort in Wallace, Nova Scotia, in an effort to boost tourism and employment in the province.

The former hobby pilot also owned Jetport Inc., a Hamilton-based private jet charter company. Joyce previously flew his own company planes, aptly named Donut 1 and Donut 2, according to a biography provided by his charitable foundation.

Despite never completing high school, Joyce also held numerous honorary doctoral degrees, including accolades from Queen’s University and the University of Calgary.

“He lived large and enjoyed the great journey of life,” said Steven Joyce in the family’s statement, adding the family greatly appreciates privacy at this time.

“He will be greatly missed.”

Just Posted

NEB gives Trans Mountain pipeline expansion its endorsement

CALGARY — The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the… Continue reading

Regulator’s report unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline expansion battle

CALGARY — An environmental group that tried to widen the scope of… Continue reading

Red Deer firefighter is recovering, thanks community for support

Firefighters who help together, stick together. Red Deer firefighter medic Ben Barthel,… Continue reading

Biathlon women sweep the podium for second time

Biathlon women took top four spots in Thursday’s 10-km race

Zion’s freak injury ripples in basketball, business worlds

DURHAM, N.C. — Soon after Zion Williamson’s shoe ripped apart, Nike’s stock… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Must have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Rabbits saved from barn fire in Ponoka County

The Ponoka County East District Fire Department was called to a barn fire

Abel begins diving season on brink of record for most worlds medals

MONTREAL — Jennifer Abel could make history this summer in Gwangju, South… Continue reading

On eve of return to Toronto, former Raptors star DeRozan says he’s “moved on”

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan has found closure. When the player once fondly… Continue reading

ACTRA to honour actress Jayne Eastwood who says being on set is her ‘happy place’

TORONTO — Looking back on her five decades in show business, Toronto… Continue reading

If proven, Smollett allegations could be a ‘career killer’

LOS ANGELES — Jussie Smollett is enmeshed in weekly drama on the… Continue reading

Ponoka host to Bayer Crop Science seed innovations trade show

The company held a trade show with seed crop science industry partners at the ag event centre

Gaudreau snaps goal drought to help Flames double up Islanders 4-2

CALGARY — The drought is over for Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau’s first goal… Continue reading

Federal government set to develop code of conduct for sport in Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government is developing a code of conduct for… Continue reading

Most Read