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Canadian Tire has long been about more than just tires

Canadian Tire Corporation has proudly supported Canadian communities for 100 years. supplied

Strengthening communities across Canada

Two storied brands, one hundred years of history

The year is 1922. You’ve bought a copy of The Globe and Mail (or The Globe, as it was called then). As you flip through its pages, you might come across stories about the Toronto St. Pats winning their first Stanley Cup, provinces switching from driving on the left to the right side of the road, and Toronto General Hospital becoming the site of the world's first insulin treatment.

It might not have made the headlines then, but another pretty significant event in Canada’s history also took place in 1922. That October, two brothers invested their money in Hamilton Tire and Garage, a small tire store in Toronto. (Located at the corner of Yonge and Gould, it was just a short stroll across downtown to King and York, where the newly amalgamated Globe and Mail paper would make its headquarters from 1937 to 1974.)

A lot has changed since then. The Globe and Mail, for example, has moved twice. Hamilton Tire and Garage has become Canadian Tire Corporation and grown exponentially, to say the least. One thing that’s remained the same? Both brands remain intrinsically woven into the fabric of Canadian life, part of the day-to-day life of millions of people from coast to coast.

This special content marks 100 years of Canadian Tire. And we detail some major milestones for the brand, celebrating its rich history and taking stock of its present, looking confidently towards the next century to offer a sneak peek at what appears to be a very, very bright future.

Canadian Tire has long been about more than just tires. After one hundred years in business, their stores have grown to become Canadians’ go-to for everything from blenders to bicycles while remaining true to its automotive roots – especially come snow tire season. But Canadian Tire’s connection to Canada runs deeper than its products and services. Its founders, A.J. and J.W. Billes, were driven by making life better not only for their customers but for their people and their communities as well. All these years later, you don’t have to look far to see Canadian Tire Corporation’s (CTC) brand purpose – ‘We are here to make life in Canada better’ – in action.

CTC’s commitment to developing meaningful, long-lasting relationships with customers, employees, suppliers and the communities it operates within has been around since its foundation. What started as a single garage in Toronto has since grown to more than 500 Canadian Tire stores across the country, operated by independent entrepreneurs: Canadian Tire Associate Dealers.

Public First’s 2022 Economic Impact Report estimated that CTC and its Associate Dealers contributed approximately $150 billion to the Canadian economy over the last decade. In 2021 alone, their gross value added of $18 billion was equivalent to supporting 160,000 Canadian jobs or one per cent of the Canadian economy.

In addition to providing employment, CTC strengthens its communities by providing support to those who need it most. “As one of Canada’s largest retailers, we believe that we owe it to Canada, which has given us so much as a company, to make it a better place for all Canadians,” said Kim Saunders, vice president, ESG strategy and community impact.

“Our work across Canada, with charitable organizations and in support of equity-deserving communities, is an endeavour that involves our entire group of companies. From providing first jobs to Canadian newcomers to pitching in at a girls’ hockey game, we are committed to making a difference to help secure Canada’s – and CTC’s – future prosperity.”

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In 2022, CTC was named one of Corporate Knights' 100 Most Sustainable Corporations for the third time.Supplied

From 2021 to 2022, CTC welcomed newcomers from Afghanistan with more than $260,000 in essential products, including $17,000 in gift cards from Mark’s. The company also piloted newcomer shopping nights at stores in the Greater Toronto Area, providing a personalized experience with support from onsite translators to help newcomers shop for essentials.

When a natural disaster struck eastern Canada in the fall of 2022, CTC supported the Red Cross’ Hurricane Fiona Canada Emergency Appeal with over $400,000 in funding, and worked to distribute 20,000 wellness and personal care items to local organizations in need.

In response to the war in Ukraine, through in-store fundraising and a corporate donation, CTC gave more than $1.4 million to the Red Cross’ Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal.

Closer to home, CTC donated $500,000 in essentials for Ukrainian newcomers and hosted a job fair to help them secure employment upon arrival.

In addition to stepping up in times of crisis, CTC understands and strives to support the everyday needs of its community members.

Since 2005, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities (Jumpstart), founded by CTC’s controlling shareholder Martha Billes, has disbursed upwards of $225 million to help more than three million kids overcome barriers to sport and recreation. Through its Inclusive Play Project, Jumpstart has helped kids of all abilities play by building 24 inclusive play spaces in communities across the country. Jumpstart also works to improve gender equity in sport through its Play to Lead program, which enables young women to develop the skills, confidence, and relationships to become leaders in sport and their communities.

“At Jumpstart, we believe that sport has the power to put kids on a positive trajectory for the rest of their lives,” said Marco Di Buono, president of Jumpstart. “We strive to give all kids an equal opportunity to learn and grow by removing the barriers to sport and play while helping ensure kids are participating in a fun, safe, and respectful environment.”

Although Jumpstart is perhaps the most well-known way that CTC supports kids and families across the country, it is not the only way. CTC recognizes the importance of supporting local organizations doing vital work in Canadian communities, such as the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Together, CTC and Holland Bloorview established the Active Together After School program, which developed a first-of-its-kind gamified exercise bike for kids with cystic fibrosis.

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CTC also has an ongoing partnership with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Through this work, they have partnered to create a Canadian guide dog breeding program and provided financial support for CNIB Lake Joe, an accessible kids’ camp that provides recreational opportunities for children with sight loss. CTC’s support for the CNIB Foundation empowers Canadians living with blindness and breaks down barriers to inclusion.

CTC also actively supports Canadian military families by partnering with Together We Stand (TWS) and Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS), a branch of the Canadian Armed Forces providing mental, physical and financial services to military members and their families. In 2021, CTC supported TWS’ Operation Care Package, helping family members send gift cards and good wishes to loved ones on active duty during the holidays.

For CTC, making life in Canada better also means considering how its decisions of today will impact the world of tomorrow. Underlining its work is a commitment to operating sustainably and bringing more sustainable solutions and innovations to its business and retail operations.

In 2021, the company helped co-found the Canada Plastics Pact, a consortium of companies that aims to end plastic waste and pollution, with a targeted plan to achieve a circular economy for plastics packaging in Canada by 2035. In 2022, CTC was listed as one of Corporate Knights’ Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations for the third time. These achievements reflect the company’s progressive work in environmental, social and governance practices and add to a growing list of awards and accolades for the company’s business sustainability strategy.

“As a large corporation, we have a responsibility to ensure our sustainability initiatives create positive environmental and social outcomes for Canadians,” said CEO Greg Hicks. “Although we are proud of what we have achieved, we know sustainability is a process, not a project – striving for better is a journey that has no finish line.”

Following the path first laid by its founders, CTC has been strengthening communities across Canada for one hundred years – and plans to continue to do so for another hundred years to come.

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Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Canadian Tire Corporation. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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