8 unlikely jobs held by future prime ministers

Before they assumed the highest office in the country, these eight individuals held an unusual array of jobs:

1. Robert Borden, teenage classics teacher: Canada’s eighth prime minister studied Greek and Latin from a young age. When he was 14, the classics teacher at his private day school, near his home in Nova Scotia, abruptly left
for another posting and Borden was promoted from student to “assistant master” in charge of classical studies.

2. Jean Chrétien, black market chocolatier: While attending school at St. Joseph Seminary in Trois-Rivières, Que., Chrétien earned spending money by peddling illicit chocolate bars to fellow pupils. A friend on the outside bought the bars wholesale, and Chrétien sold them at a steep markup, hiding the goods from the authorities in the lining of his red raincoat.

3. Lester B. Pearson, apprentice sausage stuffer: After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1919, Pearson joined Armour and Company, a Chicago-based meat-processing firm. He spent two years with the company, including a stint as an apprentice on the sausage-stuffing floor.

4. John Diefenbaker, door-to-door Bible salesman: In the summer of 1915, after he received
a bachelor of arts from the Univer- sity of Saskatchewan, Diefenbaker and a friend took jobs with the John A. Hertel Co. of Chicago, selling titles like The Chosen Word and Catholic Bible Symbols in the rural Prairies.

5. Alexander Mackenzie, stonemason: The third of 10 sons from a Scottish carpenter’s family, Mackenzie apprenticed as a stonemason at the age of 16. After moving to Canada with the family of his future wife, he carved out a reputation as a foreman and contractor on major canal sites.

6. Mackenzie Bowell, printer’s devil: Initially trained as a cabinet maker, Bowell went to work as a printer’s apprentice at the Belleville Intelligencer newspaper in the mid-1830s.

7. Brian Mulroney, boy singer: As a boy in Baie-Comeau, Que., Mulroney sang Irish songs for Col. Robert McCormick, the American newspaper magnate who founded the town. Legend has it McCor- mick slipped the seven-year-old future PM $50 for his trouble.

8. Kim Campbell, fish packer: To pay for her education at the University of British Columbia, Campbell worked as a packer at a fish plant in Prince Rupert, B.C. According to one biography, she hasn’t eaten halibut since.

Sources: Dictionary of Canadian Biography; Nobel Foundation

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