The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Daily Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), June 5, 1850

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Life in a Canal Boat

People who have commodious houses and the comforts of life, are often distressed, perchance, because their rooms are small and their houses contracted. They should see how some tidy house-wives live in canal boats, and how they manage to get along, "keep moving" in their little floating domiciles.

In looking in among the craft at one of the docks the other day, it was a matter of positive amusement to see how much was crowded sometimes into the dimensions of a common canal craft. We have one in our mind's eye, which contained all the domestic fixtures of the boatman's family, his horses and also room for 600 to 700 barrels of flour.

At one end of the boat was an apartment which served in treble purpose of kitchen, parlor and sleeping room. The deck is the place ordinarily for exercise and sitting, but the culinary operations and sleep must all be had in the little meager cabin, whose dimensions can scarcely exceed 10 by 12 feet. Here the owner of the boat and its navigator concentrates his domestic joys and jewels, and here he gathers around him his earthly treasures. They follow him in his periodical migrations to tide water and back again, and are every where about him in the calm sunshine and in the perils of the "raging canawl." His motive power is strengthened by oats and "cut feed" in the opposite end of his domicile, and they are fed alternately as they progress toward, or return from market. Too often the cargo supplies the necessary domestic comforts for the voyage, whether it be flour, or sugar or tea, or provender for the horses.

A lesson of contentment may be learned from a canal boat and its comforts. It will thus be seen that the mind and the heart most contribute to personal enjoyment, after all.

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June 5, 1850
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Oswego Daily Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), June 5, 1850