Volume 96, Issue 64
Thursday, January 23, 2003

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Tim Horton trivia
Coffee god immortalized in book

By Shannon Proudfoot
Gazette Staff

If you've ever wondered about the life of Tim Horton, who supplies your liquid gold every day, Mark Kearney and Randy Ray have a book for you.

Their most recent contribution to Canadian literature is entitled I Know That Name!, and chronicles the biographies of over 100 of the big names behind Canadian businesses.

I Know That Name! mentions Sam "the Record Man" Sniderman's $15,000 investment in a sign for his flagship store on Toronto's Yonge Street, all for the sake of spiting a nearby competitor.

The book also includes the story of Walter P. Zeller's dutiful retirement at age 65 in accordance with company policy, even though, at that point, he was the president of the vastly successful Zellers Canada.

The Canadian subject matter of Kearney and Ray's book stems from the authors' own interest in Canadiana. The book marks Kearney and Ray's sixth collaboration.

"We write on lots of stuff to do with Canadian trivia," explains Kearney. Among other projects, the pair has co-authored two books of Canadian trivia, as well as a "Where are they now?" book on Canadian pop musicians.

Kearney is a former Gazette news reporter and a graduate of Western's former undergraduate journalism program.

He was hired by the London Free Press after graduating, and also did stints as a communications officer for the government and as a writing teacher at Western. In between these commitments, Kearney has been making his living as a freelance journalist since 1989.

"[Having time to write] the books is a benefit of working freelance," Kearney points out.

He and his co-author developed the idea for I Know That Name! after seeing similar American books. They initially brainstormed 80 company names to be included, gathering further suggestions from family and co-workers.

Kearney cites the story of London's own John Labatt as one of his favorites. He explained that celebrating Victoria Day as a holiday was Labatt's personal idea. This tradition grew from a local London phenomenon to the Canada-wide May 24 weekend that we now celebrate with a trip to the beer store.

When selecting and researching their subjects, Kearney and Ray made a concerted effort to include stories from all regions of Canada, relying on the help of colleagues they have met across Canada, in their respective freelance careers.

Kearney and Ray took a firsthand research approach to the book whenever possible. If their subjects were still living, the authors interviewed them directly, or else turned to family members, company archives or other books.

"[We] wanted to tell people things they maybe didn't know about Canada," he explains. "It's educational and fun."

Kearney characterizes the book as a combination of biography and business, and says that some Canadian schools have expressed interest in incorporating it into their curriculum.

I Know That Name! is currently in its second printing by Dundurn Press and is available in bookstores across Canada. Copies can also be ordered online at Kearney and Ray's Web site (www.triviaguys.com).

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