When it opened on 22 February 1819 a general holiday was called and crowds of spectators, reportedly 60,000, gathered to watch the first boats, a flotilla of 10 arrive from Tinsley.
Nowadays it is a place to escape city life, enjoy a barging holiday or spot of fishing. We have dug out 20 great pictures from the archive showing the people who give the canals its character.
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1. Floating restaurant
Pictured at the Victoria Quays Canal Basin, Sheffield, where Paul and Dorrie Grange are seen on their canal boat restaurant 'Tiny Purple' in 1997
2. The lovesick Goose
Susan Dixon laughed it off as The lovesick Goose at Sheffield Canal Basin circles outside the boat with a plastic goose on board in 1998
Photo: Dean Atkins
3. International visitors
Donetsk officials, Anatoly Bliznyuk and Victor Yermakov with the skipper of the 'Princess Mary', Martin Heywood, pictured at Sheffield Canal Basin after the canal trip in 1998
Photo: Roger Nadal
4. Canadian Canoe Race
Fundraiser Helen Burrell and radio personality Tony Capstick got in some practice for the Charity Canadian Canoe Race at the Canal basin in 1998
Photo: Barry Richardson