Horton began his professional career in 1950 when Conn SMYTHE offered him a three-year contract to play with the Pittsburgh Hornets, the Leaf's American League farm club. He began his rookie season with the Leafs, playing for the team until 1970. In March of that year he was traded to the New York Rangers. A year later, and despite announcing his wish to retire, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed him in an intra-league draft. He eventually signed with Pittsburgh and played for them until 1972, when he was again traded in another intra-league draft to the Buffalo Sabres. Horton was signed with the Sabres when he died in 1974: driving home to Buffalo after a game in Toronto, Horton lost control of his Pantera sports car and was killed when the car exceeded 160km/h on the QEW highway near St Catharines.
Horton's lasting legacy after his death was coffee as much as hockey. During the 1960s, Horton established a little coffee and donut shop, then known as "Tim Horton," that became a well-established Canadian franchise over the next 40 years. Horton opened his first coffee and donut shop on Ottawa Street in Hamilton, Ont, in 1964, selling coffee for a quarter and featuring his own personal creations, the apple fritter and the dutchie. The shop was an enormous success. Horton decided to expand it into a franchise, appointing Ron Joyce as the store's first franchisee. The Hamilton store then became the model for a giant Canadian chain, with Ron Joyce and Horton as full partners. In 1974, the year of Horton's death, Joyce started the philanthropic Tim Hortons Children's Foundation. Yet it wasn't until 1994, 30 years after Horton established the first shop in Hamilton, that a Tim Horton franchise was opened in his own hometown of Cochrane, Ont. Currently, there are over 2500 Tim Hortons franchises across Canada.
While Horton's most enduring popular legacy is his coffee and donut franchise, he has also been both remembered and recognized for his contribution to the Leafs during his over 20-year tenure with the team. During his career, Horton played on four STANLEY CUP teams, was an All-Star player six times, and was honoured in 1969 with the JP Bickell Memorial Cup. In 1977, he was inducted into the HOCKEY HALL OF FAME, and in 1996 he was posthumously elected to the All-Time Greatest Maple Leaf Team.
Author LORRAINE SNYDER
Links to Other Sites
The website for Cochrane, Ontario, the home town of hockey legend Tim Horton. Click on "Visitors" to see a history of the community and information about local cultural attractions.