February 21, 2008

February 21 | Tim Horton

January 12, 1930 - February 21, 1974: Age 44

Tim Horton was generally acknowledged to be one of the strongest defencemen in hockey in the 60s and 70s; some say he was the strongest. When players tried to fight him or check him, he simply hugged them. One player bit him when he did this; when asked why, he replied, "I felt one rib go, and I felt another rib go, so I just had — to, well, get out of there." Horton was patient and calm on the ice, keeping opposing players in check through strength and skill rather than through aggressive behaviour.

Canadian readers will recognize the name immediately from the multi-billion dollar doughnut chain "Tim Hortons". It was indeed begun by Horton in 1964 along with investor/partner Ron Joyce. Today Tim Hortons is Canada's largest food service operator, surpassing even McDonald's with nearly twice as many Canadian outlets. If you have a Canadian friend, mention "Tim Hortons" and they will be dazzled by your intimate knowledge of their country.

Back to Tim Horton, the man: in the early morning of February 21, 1974, he lost control of his car while negotiating a curve on a highway. He hit a cement culvert and flipped over; he was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the car. The results were predictable: dead on arrival at hospital. Blood tests revealed a high alcohol level and the residue of painkillers, possibly for a jaw injury.

One tidbit perhaps not known even to Canadian readers: Tim Horton is a distant relative of US Presidents George Bush and George W. Bush.

Source: Wikipedia

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