Life on the Canal Boat The average canal boat owner was a family man, and often his family traveled the canal with him. Living quarters were the cabin under the stern deck and in the small space a woman did her washing and ironing in addition to cooking for family and crew. Those on board had to duck through a four-foot high opening in order to get from the cabin to the stateroom whose floor was two feet lower. Within were two built-in double bunks, one on either side. A draw curtain ran fore and aft in the center of the stateroom for privacy. Giving Assistance at Tonawanda Limits circa 1895. The canal animals were quartered in the stable located at the forward end of the boat. An inside bridge (or cleated ramp) allowed for the animal to come up from their quarters and an oak "horse bridge" led down from the boat to the towpath. Views showing interior accommodations for animals up front and people in the rear. Those Who Worked the Canal. The average canal boatman usually had two boats and six head of stock, either mules or horses. He hired a steersman with whom to alternate shifts and two drivers who cared for and guided the animals along the towpath, also in shifts, six hours on and six hours off. The so-called graveyard shift, running form 1:00 to 7:00 am., was lonely and monotonous and downright spooky outside of populated areas. The mules were on the towline 150 feet ahead of the boats, and on dark nights the steersman knew they were out there but could not see them. Usually single, carefree men, the drivers sported a variety of nicknames, just a few of which were Oswego Dutch, Rhode Island Red, Sam Dime and Mule Evans. South Canal Street at Seymour Street, Village of Tonawanda, 1860s.Changing Mules on the Erie 1911. At the beginning of a new shift, a canal boatman's children take a dip while a fresh span of mules is guided to the head of the tow.