The term Bargee is used to describe those living and working the waterways of Europe and is particularly used in the Netherlands. Currently, there are relatively few families still living on the network of inland waterways. There are many theories as to where the canal boatmen or bargees came from. Some people believed the boatmen were Gypsies who took to the water but this is certainly untrue. The development of the canal network in the eighteenth century brought with it the opportunity of well-paid jobs on the working barges, so probably many boatmen were from the villages alongside the canals that desired a new way of life.
They were sometimes disliked and mistrusted by people of the land. The decline of the canal industry in the twentieth century led to the loss of this work and lifestyle.
Today many narrow boats have been converted into living accommodation and families are choosing to live and travel on the canals.