This is one of my favorite census records, showing my ancestor Thomas Riley working as a canal boat captain and wife Mary Ann working as the boat's cook:
FamilySearch.org: 1870 US census, Lockport Village, Will, Illinois
This photo, from the Canal Corridor website, shows a typical early canal boat being towed along the towpath:
I'm sure it was hard work, but the picture looks very idyllic. Here is another website with many old photos and postcards showing life working on a canal boat. For you archaeology buffs, here is a website showing excavation of a canal boat.
I rather like the idea that Thomas Riley left Ireland and worked on the I & M Canal, and now, 150 years and several states later, I use the canal amenities on a weekly basis.
© 2012 Sally Knudsen