The History of the Golden Arches™

Since 1955, we've proudly served the world some of its favourite food. Along the way, we've been more than a part of history – we've created it. From the first drive-thru restaurants to our famous Big Mac® sandwich, Fries and Chicken McNuggets®, it's been an exciting journey…and we're just getting started.

Ray Kroc

The Ray Kroc Story

In 1954, at the age of 52, Ray Kroc invested his life savings to become the exclusive distributor of a milk shake maker called the Multimixer. He discovered the McDonald's® hamburger stand in California, owned by Dick & Mac McDonald, was running eight Multimixers at a time, so he packed up and headed west to investigate.

Ray Kroc had never seen so many people served so quickly, and was impressed with the way the limited menu allowed a focus on quality at every step. Inspired, he pitched the idea of opening several restaurants to the McDonald brothers, convinced he could sell eight of his Multimixers to each and every one. When they asked who would open them, Kroc said, "What about me?"

Consistency, quality and success

Ray Kroc opened the Des Plaines, Illinois restaurant in 1955, and with the first Golden Arches, launched a legendary brand. He saw the value of a restaurant system that could be famous for offering consistently prepared, quality food that tasted the same in every location, every time. In 1958, McDonald’s sold its 100 millionth burger.

By 1965, with 700 restaurants, McDonald’s went public with the company’s first offering on the stock exchange.

Ray Kroc didn’t do it alone. He believed, “In business for yourself, but not by yourself.” To achieve his vision, he chose a unique path – to persuade franchisees and suppliers to join him in working for themselves, together with McDonald's.

As a result, in 1967, the first McDonald’s restaurant outside the U.S. opened its doors in Richmond, British Columbia.

McDonald’s Canada

McDonald's Logo

Today, 2.5 million guests visit our restaurants across Canada every day. With its Canadian franchisees, McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited owns and operates more than 1,400 restaurants and employs more than 80,000 Canadians coast-to-coast. Approximately 80% of McDonald’s Canadian restaurants are locally owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs in communities from coast to coast.

The Canadian numbers

McDonald’s Canada is lucky to be part of the lives of millions of Canadians in communities across the country, helping to build a strong workforce, business partnerships and local economies.

  • When both direct and indirect employment impacts are taken together, McDonald’s Canada creates more than 200,000 jobs, generating almost $4.5 billion in local annual economic activity
  • We are the largest buyer of ground beef in the Canadian restaurant industry with annual purchases of more than 67 million pounds
  • We contribute approximately $75 million in payroll taxes and benefits and $34 million in business taxes nationally
  • Overall, McDonald’s Canada creates more than $610 million annually in taxes through the generation of new jobs and additional purchases of goods and services from other Canadian businesses
  • Through our $1.5 billion annual expenditures on energy, maintenance, landscaping, operating supplies, wages and benefits, we inject approximately $4.2 million into local Canadian economies every day and $130 million in corporate income taxes annually

McDonald’s Milestones

McDonald's milestones are many – from the 1968 debut of the Big Mac® sandwich to the Egg McMuffin® sandwich in 1976 – and achievements continue to this day. Here are the Canadian Milestones:

Choose a decade


The first McDonald's restaurant outside the United States opened in Richmond, British Columbia.

Now serving Canada

As Franchisee for Eastern Canada, George A. Cohon opened the first McDonald's in London, Ontario.


McDonald's 50th Canadian restaurant opened in Dieppe, New Brunswick.

50 restaurants and growing

McDonald's operations in Eastern and Western Canada were amalgamated and George A. Cohon was named President and Chief Executive Officer, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited.


McDonald's opened its first restaurant in Montreal. For the next 18 months, on average, a new restaurant opened each month in the province of Québec.


McDonald's changed the eating habits of Canadians with the introduction of its breakfast menu.

Mmm. Breakfast

With the opening of the 250th McDonald's restaurant – in St. John's, Newfoundland – McDonald's restaurants were operating coast-to-coast.


McDonald's first McHappy Day® raised more than $460,000 for local children's charities.


McDonald's became the largest foodservice organization in Canada.


The first Ronald McDonald House® opened in Toronto, providing a home-away-from-home for families with children undergoing treatment at a nearby pediatric hospital.  Today, there are 12 Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada, serving 10,000 families a year.

A home for when it's needed most

McDonald's created Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada, to ensure the Ronald McDonald House® Toronto and all future Houses would have an enduring foundation of support.


Seasonal McDonald's restaurants opened at Wasaga Beach, Ontario and at Montreal's La Ronde amusement park.


McDonald's first McSnack® restaurant opened in Toronto's Dundas West subway station.


McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited marked its 20th Anniversary, and with the generous support of its customers, raised $1.5 million for Rick Hansen's Man in Motion World Tour.

20 years young

After 12 years of negotiations, George A. Cohon announced an agreement to open 20 McDonald's restaurants in Moscow. It is the largest agreement ever signed between a food company and the Soviet Union.


McDonald's Canada opened Moscow-McDonald's, the first McDonald's restaurant in the Soviet Union, serviced by 27 cash registers and seating 700. This restaurant in Pushkin Square is still the largest McDonald's in the world.


In March, McDonald's announced that all of its company-owned stores would become smoke-free.








McDonald's signed an agreement with Walmart Canada to open satellite restaurants in the retailer's outlets across Canada. Today, there are 314 McDonald's restaurants inside the popular retailer's doors.


McDonald's opened its first PlayPlace® in Niagara Falls, Ontario and the first McDonald's Express location, at Granville and 70th Streets, Vancouver.


The McFlurry is first served in the town of Bathurst, New Brunswick. An instant hit, it’s launched across Canada just two years later and today has become a global success being served in over 99 countries around the world.


McDonald's introduces the Big Xtra® sandwich – a big burger to satisfy customers who are 'Xtra' hungry. McDonald's introduces Breakfast Bagels – the newest taste sensations on the breakfast menu in four delicious flavours: Bacon 'n Egg, Ham 'n Egg, Western Omelette and Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato.


McDonald's launches its McValue® Menu – special pricing on select menu items on certain days and everyday low prices on some Extra Value Meal combinations.


McDonald's launches a test of a variety of McCafé® concepts serving specialty coffees and desserts in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.


McDonald's once again reinvents breakfast with the McGriddles® breakfast sandwich – a delicious handheld package that combines bacon or sausage, folded egg and processed cheese sandwiched between delicious hot cakes with the syrup baked right in.

Introducing the McGriddles!

McDonald's launches the Balanced Lifestyles Initiative – a national consumer wellness campaign aimed at Canadians of all ages focusing on three key areas: additional menu choice, consumer education and the promotion of physical activity.

Health & wellness

McDonald's introduces the 10-Cent Happy Meal program, in which 10 cents from every Happy Meal purchased is donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities® Canada. To date the program has raised over $34 million.


Canada's first Ronald McDonald Family Room® opens at IWK Hospital in Halifax, NS, extending the comfort and care families receive at a Ronald McDonald House right into the hospital .  Today, there are four Ronald McDonald Family Rooms across Canada.


McDonald's Canada introduces the Angus Burger, made with 100% Angus beef and homemade-style ingredients.


McDonald's Canada successfully completes transition to a trans fat-free Canola Oil Blend cooking oil.

Trans fat

McDonald's Canada launches its Twitter page.


Canada hosts the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver mark McDonald's seventh Olympic Games as a Worldwide Sponsor and eighth as the Official Restaurant of the Olympic Games.

Golden Deliciousness

McDonald's Canada introduces its line-up of Buttermilk Biscuits, made with real buttermilk and baked fresh daily.  The new Buttermilk Biscuit marks the most significant breakfast menu launch for McDonald's Canada since McGriddles® successfully debuted in 2003.


McDonald's Canada invests $1 billion to undertake its largest store-by-store makeover in its 44-year history.  The majority of the company's 1,400 restaurants will be re-imaged by the end of 2012.  The multi-year effort not only includes new restaurant designs, but also enhancements to the functionality of kitchens and drive-thrus, so that the company can continue to meet customer needs today and into the future.


McDonald's Canada flicks the switch and offers free and unlimited Wi-Fi at more than 1,000 restaurants, as part of the company's commitment to a great customer experience.


McDonald's perks up coffee lovers across Canada with the launch of McCafé® espresso-based coffee drinks, including lattes, cappuccinos and mochas.

Sip and Savour McCafé

McDonald’s Canada introduces Real Fruit Smoothies. Blended with real fruit purée, ice and yogurt, they quickly become one of our all-time most popular and deliciously refreshing new product launches.


McDonald’s Canada launches “Our Food. Your Questions.” – a bold new transparency program that lets Canadians ask us anything about our food.