Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 08.17.08
Stanstead, Quebec


And it wasn't that good

STANSTEAD, QC | Many clichés about Canada are a bit of a stretch. Take the one about a Canadian being someone who can make love in a canoe. Don't think so. More like someone who can make lunch in a canoe.

But we Canadians really do love our coffee and doughnuts, in particular Tim Horton's. There are close to 2800 Tim Horton's outlets from sea to caffeine-infused sea. That's twice as many as there are McDonald's. In Canada, there's a whole lot of shakin' goin' on.

Tim's even has training-coffee for kids. It's called an iced cappuccino, which is like a coffee-flavoured slush. And my kids are hooked. We can't pass by a Tim Horton's without them begging for an ice cap.

And so it was one recent morning while traveling through Ontario. We still had some time to get to our designated tourist trap so I pulled over. And then I thought, "Hmmm, it's not 11 yet. They're still serving breakfast. Maybe I'll go for one of their breakfast sandwiches. I've never tried one of those." Like my children's caffeine levels, my sodium and cholesterol levels must have been dangerously low.

Now, I like traveling out of province because it gives me a chance to mess with -- er, I mean interact with service industry workers, you know, just to add a little variety to their day. I don't do this in Quebec because I'm not comfortable enough in French. I'm more concerned about making sure my order for a honey-glazed doughnut doesn't come out sounding like a request for a bathtub with garlic.

So it was with confidence that I stepped up to the cash and ordered two small ice caps...

"Medium!" my kids corrected.

Two medium ice caps and a breakfast sandwich.

"We're not making sandwiches any more," said the server.

I paused. "But it's 10 to 11."

"We ran out," she said.

"Well... I'm not happy," I said.

"Would you like something else?" she asked.

I thought about it, then said, "No, I don't want anything."

I stepped out of line, muttering to myself about 11 o'clock, it says right there 11 o'clock. A girl at another cash asked if she could help me.

"Do you have breakfast sandwiches?" I asked.

She looked around in a slight panic, muttered something to a co-worker, then apologized. Well, it was worth a shot.

I thought of writing a complaint on a comment card but there were no pens. Just like there were no breakfast sandwiches.

Now I ask you, how could a coffee shop that commands twenty-two percent of Canada's fast food revenue run out of fast food ten minutes before advertised. Couldn't they just run next door to the neighbouring Tim Horton's to borrow some eggs?

Imagine how demoralizing for our troops in Kandahar, where a Tim Horton's opened in 2006, if ten minutes before their mission they were told there were no more Timbits. Think of the troops...

This, I decided, was un-Canadian.

And so, I've made it my mission to visit as many Tim Horton's as I can at 10 minutes to 11 to see if they're still serving breakfast sandwiches. And if they don't, the bear claws are gonna fly!

Unfortunately, my scheduling has not yet allowed this, despite by federal law there being a Tim Horton's within any given 5 kilometre radius. I did, though, eventually get to try a breakfast sandwich.

It wasn't that good.