Our Ancestors’ Odd Jobs in Genealogy Records

By Grace Dobush

Just in time for Labor Day (or Labour Day, depending which side of the border you live on), Ancestry.com‘s Canadian genealogy site, Ancestry.ca, offers this list of unusual occupations gleaned from its Canadian census collection (1851-1916):

  • Danise Barzano, living in Ottawa in 1901, gave her occupation as “baseball field” (“terrain de baseball”).
  • Saint John, New Brunswick, resident John Corbett offered his job title as “lunatic keeper” in the 1901 census.
  • Also in 1901, Torontonian Mary Brown was a “pig nurse.”
  • William H. Butler of Ottawa was a “bell hanger” in the 1881 census.
  • Also in 1881, John Dade was working as a “lamp lighter” in Toronto.
  • John Middleton, a 19-year-old resident of Algoma, Ontario, was listed as “criminal” in 1901.
  • The 1901 occupation for Georgia Wilcox, a 38-year-old BC resident, was “idiot”—a historic reference for a patient in an asylum.

You’ll find even more odd and archaic job titles in these free FamilyTreeMagazine.com articles:

Interested in learning more about your ancestor’s work? Learn how using these resources: