September 03, 2009 14:59 ET

From Lunatic Keepers to Idiots, Highlights Most Unusual Jobs in Canada's History to Celebrate the Nation's 115th Labour Day

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 3, 2009) -

Editors Note: An image is included with this press release.

Some parents want their children to grow up to be doctors or lawyers. Many kids dream of a fast-paced, high-action life as a firefighter or police officer. But how many dreamed of life as a lunatic keeper or a pig nurse? As the nation gets set to embark on its 115th Labour Day, takes a look back at some of the strangest jobs in our collective history., the only online source for the complete digitized Historical Canadian Censuses from 1851 to 1916, is highlighting the labour landscape from the early days of our nation's growth, including the following jobs you may not have wanted to list on your CV:

- Lunatic Keeper - John Corbett has the distinction of being Canada's only official 'Lunatic keeper', according to the 1901 Census. John, a 48-year-old, lived in Saint John, New Brunswick.

- Criminal - John Middleton, a 19-year-old from Algoma, Ontario, was honest about his profession, listing himself as a 'Criminal' when asked for his occupation in the 1901 Census.

- Idiot - Neither politically correct or technically even an occupation, the Canadian censuses list three people as 'Idiots', meaning they were patients in Asylums. An example is David Aitken, a 34-year-old living in New Westminster, British Columbia, in the 1901 Census.

- Beggar - Canada had nearly 40 people officially claiming to be professional 'Beggars' between 1851 and 1916, including poor Mary Munroe, a 25-year-old Baptist living in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

- Witch - It's a good thing he didn't live in Salem! John Quinn, a 48-year-old resident of Gaspe, Quebec, is listed as a 'Witch' in the 1881 Census.

- Monster - Robert Hosking, a 42-year-old husband and father of four in Huron, Ontario, lists his occupation as 'Monster' in the 1901 Census. One can only wonder what his kid's thought of him.

- Pig Nurse - Mary Brown, a 26-year-old Toronto resident, is listed in the 1901 Census as a pig nurse, which would appear to be a very rare specialty of the veterinarian family of medicine.

And on the more conventional side:

- The most common occupation of all was 'Labourer.' More than 200,000 people listed their occupation as some form of labourer, approximately 37 per cent of the total population at the time. By comparison, only 15 per cent, or approximately 500,000 people were listed as today's equivalent of 'Specialty Trade Contractor'.

- The lure to Canada's Wild West during this time period is evident. More than 30,000 individuals reported their occupation as 'Saloon Keeper'. There was also a significant number of 'Cattle Herders', 'Horse Dealers', and more than 8,000 'Stable Boys'.

- While hockey had not yet become our national passion there were a handful of sportsmen in Canada during this era. Five people list themselves simply as 'Athletes', in addition to one 'Golf Professional', two 'Golf Teachers', one 'Baseball Player' and the challenging and bruising job of 'Baseball Glove', as listed by Montreal's George Roberts in the 1901 Census.

- In 2006, there were roughly 531 patients for every doctor in Canada, but in 1901, doctors were harder to come by, with only around 1,000 MDs listed in the census, or roughly one doctor for every 5,000 patients.

- Canadians have long been known for their sense of humour, producing some of the funniest celebrities, like Mike Myers and Jim Carrey. They were preceded by a baker's dozen of comedians, mostly from the 1881 and 1901 Censuses.

- In 2006, 'Education' was the top occupation field, with more than one million people listed as working in the industry, but in the period of time between the mid-19th century and World War One, only 40,000 people listed Teacher as their profession, many of whom were women.

- Some of the other most common professions in Canada at the time included 'Bankers', 'Nurses' and 'Merchants' who were salespeople in any variety of trades. In 2006, Canada's top occupations were in the fields of education, science, food service and administration/clerical work. Marketing Director Karen Peterson comments: "Censuses are truly colourful records which tell us so much about our ancestors, from when and where they were born, where they lived and even what they did for a living, whatever that may have been."

To find out what your ancestors did for a living, visit

ABOUT ANCESTRY.CA has 125 million Canadian names in such collections as the complete Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1912, Ontario and British Columbia vital records from as early as 1813, Quebec vital Records (The Drouin Collection), 1621-1957, Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, and U.S. / Canada Border Crossings, 1895-1956. was launched in January 2006 and belongs to the global network of Ancestry websites (wholly owned by Operations Inc.), which contains four billion family history records. To date more than 11 million family trees have been created and one billion names and 22 million photographs uploaded. 7.4 million unique visitors logged on to an Ancestry website in June 2009. ((i)comScore, June 2009)

The Ancestry global network of family history websites - in Canada, in the US, in the UK, in Australia, in Germany, in Italy, in France, in Sweden and in China.

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