The first trekschuit operated between Haarlem and Amsterdam in 1632. The canal it sailed in, called trekvaart, was dug especially for this use. It was an immediate success. The service was extended to Leiden, and an evening service was opened as well.
By the turn of the century, all the important cities in the west provinces of the Netherlands were connected with canals and a trekschuit service. When railway traffic became common in the mid-19th century, the trekschuit traffic became less popular, though it still remained a cheap alternative to the fast train connection for a couple of decades. I remember a movie from the 1940s where my grandmother's family transported their harvest by the means of a trekschuit.