Another theme for Sepia Saturday that feels like it was made for me! While my boats carry the flag of Holland and aren’t being rowed under a bridge, this was just TOO good of an opportunity to pass up. In the photo above, we see an “aakschip” or quite literally, a “barge boat” in a canal in Holland, with the photo likely taken in the mid 1930s. Hilje Dijkema, my husband’s grandmother, is the person in the checkered print dress on the left, the person at center is likely her sister Ellechien and the man in the dark clothes to the right is probably Hendrik. The barge’s name is the “Vertrouwen” or “Trust” and was built in 1926 for Hendrik Dijkema, my husband’s great-grandfather. Hendrik is one in a long line of “turfschippers” or “peat boatman” but the translation doesn’t accurately explain what that is – the Dutch is just SO much more efficient here! Basically, Hendrik ran boats up and down the canal that carried peat logs used for heating fuel. The boat was primarily based out of Uithuizen, but likely went all over Groningen on deliveries. The family was based out of Uithuizen and I know from paper records that they had various homes there over time. Before the Vertrouwen, Hendrik had another ship, the tjalkschip Ebenhaezer. There is a short series of photos taken around the same time, so I’m going to go ahead and post them all!
Likely taken on the same day as the photo at top, here we can see the barge’s name, “Vertrouwen,” painted on the back. On the boat we have, left to right, Hendrik Dijkema, Elizabeth van Eerden, Hilje Dijkema, and Ellechien Dijkema. Again, probably about mid 1930, maybe a little before 1935 – Hilje was born in 1914, so if I guess she’s in her late teens, it puts the window between 1931-1934 if we guess she’s between 17 and 20. They’re all standing or sitting on the area of the boat that would’ve been the living quarters. Further to the left of the photo is the cargo area where the peat logs would’ve been stored with covers to keep them out of the elements. Based on the leaves on the trees, this looks like it was probably taken in the summer.
One last one! again, same time period, and from left to right we have Hendrik Dijkema, Elizabeth van Eerden, Jantje Oosting, and Hilje Dijkema. Jantje Oosting married Hilje’s brother Albert Dijkema in 1934, which further helps solidify the timeline. Together, the three photos give us a little glimpse into their life aboard these barges. During the winter, the canals mostly close down due to ice, so while they spent their winters in Uithuizen, the rest of the time was spent on these barges going all over the northeast of Holland. They’re really precious photos and I’m so glad they survived and are here to tell their story.