The earliest settlements were built along rivers. Explorers, fur traders, and settlers used the rivers for transport. Canoes were common for travel on the waterways. Local people built ferries at busy river crossings.
Cart trails made by Red River carts crisscrossed the prairies. Another reason Red River carts were so popular is that they could float when the wheels were removed. When a trail came to a river the preferred place to cross was a ford, which is a place where water was shallow enough for people and animals to cross the river. It was dangerous to cross when the water was high (like after a heavy rainfall or in the spring when ice was breaking up). Their belongings would also get soaked if the water level was high.
PHOTO CREDIT: WESTERN DEVELOPMENT MUSEUM
This group of people are in a motorboat on Pike Lake in 1925.