It's not every day you'd find me nestled in the Nova Scotia summer getaway home of the Tim Horton's Founder.
But this wasn’t an "everyday" kind of day.
In May, I had the opportunity to speak at the Nova Scotia Secondary School Students' Association Provincial Conference, and I had an extra day to spend out East. My friend Emily, working for the Tim Hortons Foundation Children's Camp in Tatmagouche, invited me to come to some training with the staff. It was a bit out of the way from Acadia University in Wolfville, but I decided to accept the invitation and make the trek. I'm glad I did!
When I arrived, they took me to the guest house – the former summer cottage of Ron Joyce, co-founder of Tim Hortons (For my American reader friends – Tim Hortons is Canada's most prominent coffee & doughnut shop, and most Canadians, for better or worse, would call it a proud part of Canadian culture). I was in Ron Joyce's cottage! I couldn't believe it. The “cottage” was more like a mansion. My eyeballs popped out of of my head and rolled across the hardwood floor.
The “great room” must have been 20 feet tall, and the towering windows beside the giant fireplace overlooked the Atlantic Ocean (well, the Tatamagouche Bay and the Northumberland Strait, technically speaking). Nice view, to say the least. Really nice.
It was a beautiful and bright open-concept design. Big dining table, and the living room could have hosted an epic game of Cranium. The kitchen, of course, had a freshly stocked supply of Tim Hortons coffee, and the basement room, although empty at that moment, looked like it was once a games room – you know - billiards, foosball, bowling alleys. (Okay – so there was no evidence of a bowling alley, but it probably would have fit.)
The whole place was a little intimidating, I have to say. Maybe a bit much for me, but I DO think it would be a cool place to have 47 of your nearest and dearest come for a slumber party.
The cottage was sold back to the Tim Hortons Foundation a few years ago, so Ron doesn't go there anymore. Still, I found myself thinking about Ron Joyce and the many summers' evenings he must have spent in that house. What would he have done? I've never met the guy. He was probably a gazillionaire. But even so, how would he spend his time in the evenings? What would a gazillionaire do?
And I had a little realization. Ron Joyce, the co-founder of Tim Hortons, was probably the same as me. He probably spent his most enjoyable time surrounded by family and friends. He was probably the same as most of us.
Well, almost the same. Did I mention he had his own private airport beside the cottage? Made for easy arrivals amidst a busy schedule, I'm sure. But even that was just a strip of asphalt. I didn't get much enjoyment from the asphalt.
I stayed in that gigantic, ocean-front house all alone that night. I wondered if Ron had even stayed there alone. I'm sure he probably had - at least once or twice. I wondered what he thought about when he was there, when all his guests had gone to sleep. Maybe he thought about his business. Maybe he thought about the Foundation and how he could do even more to help disadvantaged kids go to camp. Maybe he thought about where his next donation should go. Maybe he thought about the times he'd played Cranium in the living room, or the times his friends had shared stories around that big, oversized fireplace.
I decided to go to Tim Horton's Camp because a friend invited me. Staying in Ron's mansion was a surprise, and it was a treat! It made me think a lot. But as cool as it was to stay in a big house, it was the people – the camp staff I laughed with the next morning – that made the trip memorable and fun.
I have to say, I really got a lot out of the whole experience. Accepting the invitation had been a good decision.
What invitations will you accept this month?
August 31, 2011
"When you find the niche you love, that becomes your passion. For me it was Tim Hortons. It was my world."
-Ron Joyce, Founder,
Tim Hortons Doughnuts
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Joel Hilchey is the Founder of The Beanstalk Project. An educator and entertainer, Joel inspires character by juggling, storytelling, and playing with mousetraps. Joel specializes in opening keynotes for conferences and offsite retreats, engaging people to people think differently so they learn more, have more fun, and get the most out of an experience.
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The Inside of Ron Joyce's Cottage.
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