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Why does Tim Hortons restaurant have no apostrophe?

The Answer

Quebec language laws.

Tim Horton

If you’ve read about why Popeyes restaurant has no apostrophe, you may think that Tim Hortons has an equally unsatisfying answer, but it’s actually one that makes a certain amount of sense.

It’s not because there were many Tim Hortons that founded the restaurant chain. There was only one – the famed Maple Leafs defenceman named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players.

Why then is there no apostrophe?

The actual reason is Bill 101, the 1977 Quebec provincial law requiring the exclusive use of French on public commercial signs.

Bill 101 spells out that ALL signs, product labels, restaurant menus and wine lists must be in French. It became illegal for businesses to advertise English names at the risk of facing large fines. Since the apostrophe in Tim Horton’s is an exclusively English punctuation mark, it had to go.

So instead of having two different brandings, Tim Hortons decided to eliminate the apostrophe altogether.

To apostrophe or not apostrophe? Why is Tim Hortons not Tim Horton's? |

I’ve investigated whether other chains like Wendy’s and McDonald’s had to rebrand in Quebec but I’ve not had a lot of success. In part, this is because Bill 101 has been subject to a number of legal challenges and amendments over the years since it passed.

If you’re from Quebec and know the answer, please share in the comments below.

Some chains seem to have gone with translated or modified French-language names like PFK (Poulet Frit Kentucky) instead of KFC, Bureau en Gros instead of Business Depot and Banque Nationale instead of National Bank.

KFC Restaurant a la Quebec

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