Although the canallers came from many ethnic groups, their life in America shared many similarities. Most of these workers were young single males. Most were uneducated. As a group, they were looked down by American citizens. Irish in particular were resented about their Catholic religion. These workers lived in substandard housing. Some of the housing consisted of wooden dwellings with multiple people in a large room. Tents and shacks were other forms of dwellings For the most part, the housing was separated from the rest of the community usually located near the canal.
The life of the workers was hard. They worked long hours in less than optimal working conditions. Many were working in an almost intoxicated state. This resulted in dehydration and work injuries due to ther less than attentive state. Explosive were used frequently during canal construction. Many of the workers using the explosives were not trained in their use. They took the job because it paid more than a common laborer. As a result of their inexperience,there were many serious and fatal injuries to the explosive workers and the laborers. Workers injured in this way were basically out of luck. The contractors felt that they were under no obligation to compensate the injured workers The legal system backed them up in this regard. These workers had to depend on charity
Added to this was the unsanitary work conditions. Workers were sickened and many died of m infectious diseases. Included in this list were typhoid, cholera, and malaria. Many died due to the lack of health care and the rudimentary state of Medicine at this time. The exact number of deaths is not known due to poor record keeping.