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Dutch Canadian artist ‘spokesman’ for Tim Hortons chain

Verstraete featured on doughnut box

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

GABRIOLA ISLAND, British Columbia - Canadian coffee and fresh baked goods chain Tim Hortons is getting promotional assistance from a number of regular customers. Dutch-Canadian artist Gerrit Verstraete is one of the people featured with a photo and a quote on Tim Hortons boxes for fresh donuts.

An accomplished classical drawing artist, Verstraete for years has made his home (and art studio) on BC’s Gabriola Island. The Zwolle-born man immigrated in 1959 with his parents Chris and Cornelia (Van Dam) and six siblings to Canada where he attended high school and graduated with honours from the Ontario College of Art (1968). As a young child in the Netherlands, he had been enrolled at the wellknown Zwolle art school, Hopmanhuis.

Verstraete is the founder of the Drawing Society of Canada. The organization is a national fine arts society which preserves and promotes the valuable traditions of drawing, and drawing as the most intimate of form of visual arts. Its objectives are to educate, empower, enrich and encourage.

The special Tim Hortons donut boxes express ‘Thanks for 40 years of friendship.’ Verstraete’s quote, extols the products of the coffee chain, saying “The ferry is my ticket to great coffee and creativity.”

Tim Hortons, for many a ‘Canadian institution’, is headquartered in Oakville, Ontario. There are over 2,300 outlets in Canada and some 250 in the U.S. In 1964, NHL player Tim Horton had opened a donut shop in Hamilton, Ontario, taken over a year later by Ron Joyce. They were partners until Horton’s death in 1974, when Joyce became the sole owner of the 40 stores. In 1995, Tim Hortons merged with Wendy’s International, Inc.

Verstraete’s father Chris, formerly of a Zwolle school supply business, operated a bookbinding business near Chatham, Ontario. A son, Baldwin, started his travel career in 1970 and owns Verstraete Travel, while another sibling, Dr. Beert Verstraete, is Professor of Classics at the Department of History and Classics, Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.