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The Geography of Tim Hortons

We know that Canadians love their Tim Hortons coffee and donuts.  When wandering around almost any Canadian city, you’re bound to see several Tim Hortons locations.  It got me wondering about “the Geography of Tim Hortons.”   Of course, to satisfy my curiosity I broke out GRASS for a quick analysis.

The data came from a text file of store locations (including lat/lon coordinates) that I got off the Tim Hortons website back in September 2009.  I can’t seem to find an updated version there now, so this analysis may be a few months out of date.  However, I think it still gives the general idea. from a file I found on Finder!

I first created a shapefile in QGIS using the “Delimited Text” plugin with the above-mentioned text file as my input.  I then reprojected the shapefile to a Mercator projection using OGR (more specifically the ogr2ogr utility) via FWTools.

The next step was to create a new GRASS location, and import the shapefile using  I then set the extent to match my dataset, and set the resolution to 250 meters.  Any higher and my poor old computer ran out of memory.  I figured that was just as well, since at the Canada-wide scale, we don’t need to be much more precise than 250 meters.  Next, I used to convert my GRASS vector to a raster.

Once I had a nice raster version of the locations, r.grow.distance was run.  After a failed attempt (not failed really, but since I’m impatient, I reset the resolution to 1000m, and ran it again).  This time I got a result quickly.  However, I decided I wanted to mask the region so that the calculations only occur on land areas only, so I downloaded a Country Boundary file from Finder! to use.  I opened the shapfile in QGIS, selected only the polygons in North America, and exported as a new shapefile, reprojecting to match my other data at the same time.  Then, I imported the shapefile to GRASS, converted to raster, and set the resulting raster as the raster mask using r.mask.

When r.grow.distance was run with the mask set, the result looks something like this:

The Geography of Tim Hortons

The Geography of Tim Hortons

I hope to do some more analysis on this shortly (drive time analysis anyone?), but I’ll stop here for now.  Comments appreciated!


Comment from B Kobben
Time March 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm

> the result looks something like this:
Like what? Am I supposed to understand this map? Can anybody tell me what the colours mean? # of Tim Hotons / sq km? ordistance from TM shop? I’m probably a horrible old paleocartographer, but would it harm you to put a legend of some kind in this map?

Comment from Darren
Time March 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

B Kobben:

The colours represent distance from the closest Tim Hortons. The next post on the topic will provide some further analysis on the results, so I left this post open for comments before going into details.



Pingback from GIS-Lab Blog» Архив блога » Новости вокруг 45
Time March 14, 2010 at 5:31 am

[…] Как Darren Cope строил карту распространения сети фаст-фуда «Tim Hortons». Общее описание без детальных инструкций – QGis, GRASS, OGR. […]

Comment from Chop
Time May 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I’m a cartography Student in Nova Scotia, this kind of shapefile is EXACTLY what I need for my summer placement. I’ve been looking around the Tims site and can’t file you spoke of, would it be send me a copy of the data?
You’d be my hero forever.

Comment from Darren
Time May 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Hi Chop,

I’ve updated the post–the file in fact came from Finder! and is available here: for download.

Comment from Chop
Time May 13, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Sweet Jesus you’re awesome. Thanks!

Comment from Darren
Time May 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Not a problem ;) I’d be interested in seeing what you come up with using the data; keep me posted! And I need to get back to the second part of this analysis…

Pingback from DARREN COPE » 2010 – A Year In Review
Time January 5, 2011 at 8:31 pm

[…] was started in early 2010.  There has been slow growth in visitor numbers over the year, with my Geography of Tim Horton’s post getting mentioned in a FARK comment thread, and my Sigma Rox Reviews getting solid hits.  As […]

Pingback from How far away are you from beer on a Sunday in Indiana? « Boring Nerdy Stuff
Time April 19, 2012 at 9:58 pm

[…] by GIS blogger Darren Cope’s analysis of Tim Horton’s locations in Canada I decided to figure out how far you are at any […]

Pingback from Updated Indiana Breweries Map « Boring Nerdy Stuff
Time November 23, 2012 at 8:32 pm

[…] few months ago I followed Darren Cope’s Geography of Tim Horton’s blog post to create a similar map that showed breweries in […]

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