Friday, November 12, 2010


Canadian spirit alive and well in Afghanistan

by Mike Armstrong

OK, I know the Tim Hortons in Afghanistan is sort of seen as a joke. From back home in Canada, it seems kind of ridiculous that there's a Timmy's in a war zone. Agreed -- no doubt about it. But spend a little time here, and you understand what it means.

There are other caf├ęs on base. There's a fancy one down by the British PX, and a couple of American Green Bean coffee shops around as well. But talk to someone in just about any uniform -- British, Australian, French, it doesn't matter -- the Timmy's is different. It's a piece of Canada, and they all know it.

This summer, the Tim's was moved from the very busy boardwalk, over to Canada House. It's tucked away, far from the heavy traffic, but it's still always busy. There are usually 20 to 30 people lined up outside, and another 20 inside. The folks inside don't seem to ever stop.

File Photo: Sean Wilson, 38, of London, Ontario, a civilian who came to Afghanistan to work at the Kandahar Airfield Tim Hortons because his brother Mark Wilson, a Royal Canadian Dragoon gunner, was killed in Afghanistan by the Taliban, serves coffee to a soldier.

Photo by Ethan Baron, Postmedia News.

Now, all of this was just a preamble to allow me to tell a quick story. I love it. It was told to me by one of the Canadian civilians working at Tim's.

They ran out of milk a couple of weeks ago. This week, they ran out of donuts, and they're running low on bagels and muffins. Last week, they ran out of iced cappuccinos. It's pretty hot here, and they're incredibly popular.

Two Canadian soldiers bought the last two ice caps. The woman behind the counter handed them over, and a couple of American soldiers stepped up to the counter. They ordered iced caps too. The woman said, "Sorry boys, we just sold the last two."

The two Canadians heard her, turned around - and on the spot, handed their drinks over to the Americans.

There are some reasons to really love this place.

Mike is Global National's Quebec correspondent, normally based in Montreal. He is reporting from Kandahar for the next few weeks. (here)

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