2015 Fredericton Encaenia - Ceremony B

Joyce, Ronald

Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.)

Orator: Davies, Gwendolyn


to be Doctor of Letters

In many respects, Ron Joyce's life is legend-building. Raised in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, he was only three years old at the height of the Great Depression in the 1930s when his father was killed in a motor vehicle accident, leaving his mother with little money and a new baby on the way. While Ron Joyce has recalled the toughness of those times in his autobiography Always Fresh: The Untold Story of Tim Hortons by the Man Who Created an Empire, Tatamagouche was the kind of place where boys could fish, row and swim at the local wharf in the summer.1

And it is significant that, throughout his rise on the national and international corporate ladder, Ron Joyce has never forgotten the Northumberland shore of his boyhood, investing in the year 2000, more than 60 million dollars in his 400 hectare Fox Harbour Golf Resort & Spa in Wallace (near Tatamagouche), including an airstrip, a personal home, condos, a clubhouse, a marina, and a golf course of international standards. "It was something I wanted to do," he is quoted as saying in an article on him in MacLean's: "Part of it is giving back to where I grew up."2

Since leaving Tatamagouche after World War II to find work in Hamilton, Ontario, Ron Joyce has had a varied career, ranging from being in the Canadian Navy for five years during the Korean War, being on the Hamilton police force for nine years, and, eventually becoming a partner in the doughnut shops begun by Toronto Maple Leaf hockey star Tim Horton. The rest, as they say, is history, for after Tim Horton's sudden death in a car accident in 1974, Ron Joyce bought out the 50 existing Tim Horton's outlets from the hockey star's widow, and, by 1995, had astutely developed an empire of 1,000 outlets. Ever a shrewd businessman, Ron Joyce has seen various mergers of Tim Horton?s with food chains south of the border, but he alone will forever enjoy the reputation of having the corporate imagination to inspire one of the most successful food chains in the world. Moreover, his business acumen has led to his being much in demand to serve on national boards such as Shaw Communications and the Sobey's food chain, while his personal corporate ownership has extended beyond the fastfood business to include the Hamilton-based aviation executive charter business, Jetport, and a stake in the Calgary Flames hockey team.

One of the nominators of Ron Joyce for this honorary degree has noted that, "It is difficult to imagine what our country would be like if Ron Joyce had not joined the ranks of Canada's great philanthropic leaders." For example, shortly after the death of Tim Horton, Ron Joyce founded the Tim Horton's Children's Foundation to honour his friend's memory by raising money to enable underprivileged children to go to free summer camps in Canada and the United States (these camps include one at Tatamagouche). Further to this, he has established a family charity, The Joyce Foundation, dedicated 'to supporting the social, economic, and emotional well-being of children and youth by empowering them to develop into healthy, confident, independent contributors to Canadian society'.3 Focusing primarily on awarding renewable bursaries for children and youth who could not otherwise afford to pursue their education, the Joyce Foundation has generously given gifts of five million dollars each to fund undergraduate bursaries at institutions such as the University of Calgary and the University of New Brunswick -- has set up graduation scholarships at schools such as Pugwash District and North Colchester High -- and has established the Ron Joyce Centre for Business Studies at Mount Allison University. Ron Joyce's commitment to young people and their future has also recently included the Joyce Foundation's five million dollar gift toward the building of the Ron Joyce Children?s Health Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, where research and treatment in autism, youth mental health, developmental pediatrics, and prosthetics and orthotics for children will be located. It is anticipated that the centre will treat 70 thousand young patients per year.4

Because of his social, business, and philanthropic contributions to Canadian society, Ron Joyce has, amongst many honours, been inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame; has been inducted into the Order of Canada and has been a recipient of the Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award; and has received numerous honorary degrees. It is with pleasure that the University of New Brunswick now adds to the recognition of this dedicated Canadian by conferring upon Ron Joyce the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa.

1 Mark Chisnell, "Lunch With Superyacht Owner...Ron Joyce," Boat International, 27 January 2015, http://www.boatinternational.com/luxury-yacht-life/owners-experiences/lunch-wit-super..., accessed 18/05/2015
2 Ron Joyce (Profile), Maclean?s (November 25, 2002), The Canadian Encyclopedia, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/ron-joyce-profile/, accessed 18/05/2015.
3 "The Joyce Foundation donates $5 million for undergraduate bursaries," UToday, December 22, 2014, University of Calgary, https://www.ucalgary.ca/utoday/issue/2014-12-22/joyce-foundation-donates-5million-un..., accessed 18/05/2015.
4 "Businessman and philanthropist Ron Joyce is Enabling Dreams," AM900 CHML, Hamilton, http://www.900chml.com/2015/03/24/businessman-and-philanth/..., accessed 18/05/2015.

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