In the booming ’Golden’ 17th Century, a reliable system of transportation was developed in the Netherlands, using rivers and canals. Barges with timetables and fixed prices, both for passengers and merchandise. This for its day modern infrastructure proved a valuable advantage for production and trade.
These barges were generally pulled, by horses or people. By children as well. Like on the photos of the family business below, taken as late as the 1930-ies !
Until some hundred years ago child labour was very common anyway. Late 19th century, in the textile industry of Leiden, 42% of the factory workers had started before the age of 10. And 25% at the age of 10 to 12 years old.
Laws to protect children were passed, but this did not stop child labour. All too often, the families just needed the money to survive.
For (not so) good old days, part one - Plagues and Pests, click here.