Archives for posts with tag: Tim Horton


Bragging Rights, Fun & Games
Cochrane, ON, located at the transition point between subarctic and humid continental climate zones, is a happy place, proud of its cold winters. I lived there from 1941 to 1946 and remember them vividly.

  • The railway junction and District seat didn’t have a weather station; radio reports lumped us in with Timmins, 30 miles to the west. We adopted the bragging rights of Iroquois Falls, 30 miles to the south. A temperature of – 58.3 C ( – 72.9 F) there on Jan. 23, 1935 was the lowest  in Ontario and fifth lowest in Canada.
  • The sun shone and the snow was dry, white and deep. It crunched like crazy when you walked on it but you didn’t just walk. For variety you held your foot out and ran it back and forth to uncover or form ice so you could zip along faster. All was safe and silent on the residential streets.
  • We girls lay on our backs in the snow and ‘flew’ with our outspread arms and legs flapping up and down to leave the impression of an angel. The trick was to try to jump back up on both feet at once without leaving any exit marks.
  • To play tag, we first made a ‘pie’ in the snow by running around behind each other in single file to make a huge circle. Then we bisected and quartered the pie to make paths where we could chase and catch each other. If you lost balance and made a footprint in the unbroken snow, you were “out”.
  • The arena was the busiest place in town, full of would-be hockey stars and figure skaters. Men on curling teams wore jackets that looked like Hudson’s Bay blankets.

Cochrane 001School, Frozen Noses & a Calamity

My sister, Enid, attacked my sister, Tanis, with a snowball but she was a survivor. School was never once closed because of the weather; if we’d had snow days no one could have got any kind of education.

  • After we made it to school on a terribly cold day, we stayed in the lobby to inspect each other’s faces for signs of frostbite. If you saw a white spot on someone’s nose, ear or cheek, you massaged it gently with an open palm until it became red again, a sign that circulation had been restored.
  • The Principal, Mr. Marwick, stood at the door glancing outside to see who still hadn’t arrived. He kept his finger on the electric bell and didn’t press it until the last straggler was in.
  • One cold day Tanis was hurrying to school along the curve in the road, keeping close to the 15-foot slope down to the frozen lake on her right. She heard bells, a clatter, pounding hooves and a “Neigh-h-h” behind her and realized she’d better get out of the way fast. It was good she and her friend, Mimi Duranceau, were Cochrane High School’s championship tumbling team.
  • The empty flatbed the horse was pulling jackknifed and went over the slope, scooping up and dispersing everything in its path as the terrified horse galloped by. Mr. Marwick saw the drama and yelled, “That kid! She must be dead! It’s Tanis!”
  • My big sister did not die but she suffered from a concussion. She had flown through the air of her own accord and managed to tumble right down the snowy slope without getting whacked by the fast-moving ‘tram’. cochrane3World War Two & Our Stars 
  • The boys fought off the Germans and Japanese with BB guns in hand-made snow forts. We were all sober, patriotic participants in the effort to achieve Victory. Food, soap and gas were rationed; we bought war savings stamps and volunteered to do errands for the Red Cross.
  • All the high school boys belonged to the cadet corps and drilled daily along the peninsula where the school was located. You can be sure Tim Horton, the future NHL player and donut-chain namesake is marching in this platoon. Another notable native son, Don McKinnon O.C., is there too. He discovered the Hemlo Lake site where three major gold mines are located. Michael Barnes wrote a book about him called “The Scholarly Prospector.”
  • Incidentally, Enid was Timmy’s girlfriend and got to use his stick on the girls’ hockey team.


Main Street’s Winter Wonderland
Main Street turned into a fun place in winter. Three fires — in 1910, 1911 and 1916 — had burned it down and each time it was rebuilt with the two sides farther apart. This was so the flames could not hop from one side to another.

  • The plows had to clear it as if it were two streets, and leave a big snow bank in the center. It was always fun to cross over , especially when the bank became more than 10 feet tall. A polished, shiny, icy track formed from the heat of pedestrian traffic. The paths became steps on the way up and slippery slides on the way down.
  • There were no cars (only delivery horses pulling trams) to run into.
  • No one even tried to keep a car running in winter, except travelling salesmen who parked in front of the hotels on Albert Street opposite the railway station. Family cars were put up on wooden blocks in garages or sheds with their wheels removed. A lot of ‘snowbirds’ drove south instead.


Intrepid Parents, Fashion & Climate

  • My parents were very good sports about the Cochrane winters and never let them be an excuse for not going out of doors for a brisk walk, visit or church service.
  • The right hats helped them survive and enjoy the winter weather. Father bought a fur cap especially for Cochrane. Mother’s unique cadet-style hat was custom-made from ermine pelts by a Cochrane tailor. (That is another story which I tell in A Book of Kells.)
  • Mother always stated a good cloth (wool) coat was as warm as a fur one. Synthetic fabrics did not exist in those days. She never wore pants but was delighted to discover cotton ‘over-stockings’ which she could pull up over her silk ones.
  • The exhilaration continues. The average Cochrane temperature from Dec., 2016 to Feb., 2017 was – 22.6 C  ( – 8.7 F) and the record low was – 47 C ( – 52.6 F).

Happy Reading & Writing from CozyBookBasics!







An Alzheimer patient gets a visit from her sister.Last week two elderly cousins of a writing colleague of mine got into their car, turned on the engine and suffocated themselves with carbon monoxide. She had been diagnosed with mesothelioma and he with Alzheimer’s disease and they wanted to die without burdening anyone.The comments on my colleague’s blog expressed horror and sympathy. Despite this, some also echoed his optimistic suggestion they had acted bravely, selflessly and died peacefully.
This picture and story about my sister, Enid Mary McDiarmid, are my comment on that tragedy. For several years I’ve traveled periodically to the Providence Healthcare facility in Toronto, 350 miles away, to sit with her and share hugs. Every time I go, I feel lucky and happy she is still here to be loved. I’m thankful for the staff and volunteers who give her the best care, and for the Ontario taxpayers who foot the bill.
Enid Mary isn’t part of Woman History Month, and her teaching career didn’t make her famous, but she had an impact on the daily social life of the country, the continent and beyond.

In the grade nine classroom of Cochrane High School in 1944 she sat behind a boy with a brush cut who had a crush on her. Enid Mary was pretty and he was the school hockey team’s star. One day he felt close enough to her to ask for help on a serious problem. He couldn’t stand his name, Miles, was sick of being teased and wanted to be called ‘Timmy’ instead. The next Saturday, when the Hearst, ON. team came to play hockey and Miles broke away down the length of the arena, Enid Mary had all the girls up on their feet waving their arms and cheering, “Come on Timmy! Come on Timmy!” at the top of their lungs.

Next time the teacher called out ‘Miles’ for the attendance record, and he sat mutely with his arms folded stubbornly, Enid put up her hand and said, “I think he wants to be called Timmy”. She and other girls clamored for their own hockey team and, when they got it, Timmy lent her his stick and she became pretty good at tearing off down the ice and shooting for the net, too!

Today Tim Horton’s is a major food-service chain with 3,665 restaurants in Canada, 869 in the United States, and 56 in the Persian Gulf region It was founded by the National Hockey League star but his partner assumed control of the company after Horton died in an automobile accident in 1974. The franchises spread rapidly and eventually overtook McDonald’s as Canada’s largest food service operator.

Enid Mary (Enid prefers her double name) has deteriorated as her Alzheimer’s disease progresses. She uses a walker and barely speaks. However, when I ask the attendant to tell her, “Your sister, Margaret, is here!” she accepts the idea and gives me a big hug — the same reassuring one I’ve gotten from her ever since I was born two years after she was. The attendant says she’s very nice and wanders around a large area but is sometimes confused. Her expression is vacant but she still knows who she is and how to behave towards others. When Tom and I arrived last time, she was sitting with a gentleman patient at a round table eating supper. She arched her eyebrows at seeing strangers sit down beside her, but was aware she was eating and we weren’t. She ripped her paper serviette into neat pieces and gave us one each as a substitute plate. Then she offered us some of her fish, her peas and her potatoes. We had to refuse every item before she felt comfortable eating in front of us. When a bird alit on a branch outside the window, she became excited and pointed it out to us. She was most distressed when the elderly gentleman had a coughing fit.

My sister is still a role model and has lessons to teach us about the life of a person living and dying from Alzheimer’s.

Besides, life just wouldn’t be the same if the millions of people who line up each day to buy ‘timbits’ with their coffee had to ask for ‘milesbits’ instead.

Read more of this family’s story in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void or Kathleen’s Cariole Ride. This week Canada’s e-books joined most other countries of the world as a seller of digital e-books. Personally, I’m very pleased because I had some gift certificates to use up! Here’s the link:

Happy Reading and Writing from CozyBookBasics!


Rinso! (Photo credit: Kaptain Kobold)

When I was 11 back in 1944, I lived in the small northern Ontario town of Cochrane. My heroes were Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Princess Elizabeth.

The survivors of that group, Queen Elizabeth and I, shared the thrill two nights ago of  watching the heroic planes of World War II, a Lancaster, four Spitfires and a Hurricane, fly past to salute her on her Diamond Jubilee.

It is D Day once more and what strong memories and emotions are stirred!

What I recall is that wartime rationing was in force and some things, like soap and sugar, could be bought only with coupons. Mother sent me uptown with a coupon for laundry powder. I went from store to store and finally got the only kind I could get, Rinso. As I went down the Main Street, hugging it, a big railway worker three times my size and five times my age confronted me. My momentary fear dissolved when I saw he had what seemed like a very tiny box of Ivory Snow in his hand, making him look vulnerable.

He asked me if I would trade, since his wife needed a stronger product to get his greasy overalls clean. I wasn’t sure it was a good deal, but who was I to argue? We just had three girls and a minister in our house  it was true, and we weren’t greasy. Mother would never know and something about the man’s friendly, concerned face assured me I was being patriotic.

On the home front, my most vivid 1944 memory  is of someone who was not an icon then but is now. My older sister, Enid Mary, was chosen for the girls’ hockey team and her boyfriend  let her use his hockey stick. She was the envy of all of us other girls because he was our star and surely the stick was magic. Our team beat all the out-of-town teams, thanks to his amazing breakaways down the length of the ice. We cheered him on at the top of our lungs.

Enid had met him in grade seven at Cochrane Public school when Miles sat in the desk in front of hers. He told her he didn’t like his name and asked her if she would call him Tim instead. She did, and got her friends to do the same. “He was very determined,” she recalls. “When the grade ten teacher called him Miles, he wouldn’t answer.”

We all knew Timmy would be an NHL star but never dreamt he would one day become the iconic name attached to a coffee and fast-food franchise, Tim Hortons.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void,  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon,  Goodreads or my website.

I will be at Britton’s Glebe, 846 Bank St., Ottawa on Sat., Aug. 9, 10
a.m. to 2 p.m. to honor the WWI 100th anniversary. Please drop in  if you would like to chat and pick up a signed copy of my book.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!