The Case of the Missing Apostrophe

Guess what!!!! (I'm pretty excited about this.) I found out why Tim Hortons has no apostrophe!!!! There is a Real Reason!!!!**

Here's what my research has yielded. Sit down and listen.

The restaurant started out (in Ontario in the 1960s) as Tim Horton's. The apostrophe was dropped only when the chain expanded into Quebec (not sure when that was). In Quebec, by law, all business signage has to be translated into French, so Tim Horton's Donuts would become Les donuts de Tim Horton. Producing new signs for Quebec would be expensive, so the chain dropped the apostrophe and became Tim Hortons (pretending, you'll notice, that this somehow removes any hint of the possessive. By the letter of the law, maybe, but it doesn't change the semantics).

In English Canada, we complain about the missing apostrophe. In Quebec, no one is fooled. They know exactement what went down.

**I doubt the same can be said for Milestone's.


Mark Hanington said...

I have a grammar question: Is it correct to use the pronoun "which" to describe a person, as in "They were the people which were represented by stone pillars...." Or must it hbe "They were the people who were..."

Darren said...

Quebec is a wonderful place, a bilingual playground that I would love to live closer to (ie Ottawa). Driving to Quebec is like a road trip to Europe. But the price of preserving that atmosphere is a tiresome torrent of whiny language politics and near-fascist levels of state involvement in the workings of business.

richard said...

You and your Milestones / 's obsession!

I believe the same thing applies to that fine establishment as for the others that dropped the apostrophe to enter Quebec. There's also a more interesting group of businesses, like Eaton's (RIP), that dropped both the apostrophe and the possessive "s" to become, in this case, Eaton.

Did you email Mark yet? I always tell people to exclusively use "who" for persons (or person-substitites, when the mood strikes).

fiona-h said...

mark - this is a good topic for a post. will do one now.

Creatific said...

You got me thinking and googling about Tim Hortons. Two things I think are worth adding to your discussion.

1. Tim Hortons has apparently merged with Wendy's in several markets. I find it amusing that Wendy got to keep her apostrophe. The joint signs are a sight to behold (check out Wikipedia entry on Tim Hortons).

2. Did you know there is a Tim Hortons in Afghanistan!?!?


fiona-h said...

no I didn't! I wonder what that means!