"The towman plods wearily behind his horses. The towpath is lit up by
the full moon, as the barge laden with coal glides along the water, 100 m
behind him. The July night is hot and sultry.
The day has gone well: even if the horses seem a trifle edgy,
there have been no accidents, broken harnesses, falls in the water, or collisions.
Everything has gone smoothly but the towman is dead tired. He has been up
since before daybreak, at work since 4 o'clock this morning and it is now
nearly 10 at night.
of the Chambly Canal at the beginning of the 20th century.
© McCord Museum of Canadian History / Notman
In a few minutes, he will reach the locks and be nearly home.
But he still has to take his barge through the locks, water and feed his
horses and clean any sores from their rubbing bridles before bedding down
for a few hours of well-earned rest.
In no time it will be tomorrow, with more barges at the quay
waiting to be towed toward Saint-Jean. Since the siren sounded signalling
the arrival of the first boats in mid-May, things have been busy and the
weather gloomy. But however exhausting the work, there is no question of
taking time off: the barges must be brought up at once, and the Chambly
Canal towmen are the people who have to do it."