Our son’s picture (Picture 5) I mounted myself using an old frame we already had. Our eldest granddaughter did this one for my birthday and we got it framed through a little art and craft shop in the town. It shows me at the rudder driving (the right term) our narrowboat down the canal on a sunny day, with the towpath running alongside the canal.
English canals were dug from the mid 18th century and are nearly all designed to allow two 7 foot wide boats to pass; so we are not exactly talking Grand Erie Canal here. Modern boats range in length from around 70 foot to about 35 foot. There are still a number of the original working boats in use; these were nearly all built for shifting bulk cargo such as coal. Their industrial use was eventually destroyed partly by the railways. By the 1960’s trade had stopped and I remember seeing dozens of boats left abandoned at their moorings in the iced-up canals near us. ( I was offered one for £25 actually.)
Most are now used for holiday purposes- an English equivalent to the cabin in the hills or the chalet by the lake. However some people live on them all year round; a nice mix of New Age travellers, retired folk, students, people looking for low(ish) cost living space and craftspeople who provide rope fenders, barge art or fuel for sale to boaters. The canals run into the centre of many English cities and towns, including Oxford, Cambridge and London; while Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice
Talking of Venice, the Columbina mask hanging over the picture frame comes from there; they are worn during the Carnival in early Spring.