The east end of Montreal is not exactly where you would expect to find a national Tim Hortons museum, but a Hochelaga-Maisonneuve couple have just opened one in the spare room of their apartment.
They actually moved into the apartment specifically because they thought the spare room would be a good place to fulfill their vision. The journey began when they were shopping at a thrift shop.
“We were so excited to find this.”
“We were shopping at Village des Valeurs on Pie-IX, and we stumbled on this coffee maker with Tim Hortons on it,” said Lorie-Anne Chamberland, one-half of the curatorial duo of the National Tim Hortons Museum.
That was the first item in a collection that has now swelled to 80. They have vintage Tim Hortons cups, T-shirts, plates, and much more.
Even a Sidney Crosby Tim Hortons puzzle is part of the collection, and a set of Tim Hortons marbles.
Initially, they floated the idea of having a kitchen filled with Tim Hortons stuff, but as the collection grew, they decided to create a museum.
Alexandre Contant’s favourite item in the collection is by far the “rim roller.” It’s a tool used to roll cup rims up during the “Roll Up the Rim to Win” contest.
“It’s just so fun, such a clean cut,” said Contant.
The items have been collected by donation and bought online. In all, they’ve spent about $2,000 of their own money.
A Tim Hortons monopoly set cost them $150, and there is even a monument to Tim himself.
“We thought it was really meta to have a photo of Tim Horton in front of Tim Hortons holding a bunch of Tim Hortons donuts,” Chamberland told Global News.
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At first glance, the museum appears to be a pure love letter to the 4,600-store coffee giant, but underneath the surface, something else is brewing.
“Do we love it? Yeah, it’s a cool place,” says Contant. “But it’s just a facade.”
They want to start a broader discussion on how Tim’s uses Canada itself to sell its products.
“Our country is not a company. Tim Hortons is kind of taking control of this image,” said Contant.
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Come for the knick-knacks, stay for the pointed critique on a coffee brand taking up a key part of Canadian identity.
“Tim Hortons has been very clever in cultivating the idea that it’s targeting Canadian identity and Canadians in terms of attachment to their country,” said Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies.
Contant and Chamberland invite visitors to enjoy the collection for free. You just need to make an appointment on their Facebook page.
They hope to soon travel to the first Tim Hortons in Hamilton, and bring their museum along to set up a mobile exhibition during stops along the way.