The Mariinskii Canal system where this photo was taken was a system of canals that were constructed to connect the Gulf of Finland and the Volga River. This waterway started construction in 1709 when the Russian were developing their infustructure to connect St. Petersburg with the interior of Russia. This waterway was very important since allowed the movement of goods from the Atlantic into the interior of Russia along the Volga River. This waterway cut the time to travel from Cherepovets to Leningrad from 10-15 days down to 2-3 days allowing for fast travel between the Atlantic and the Volga River.
The photo notes that the crew is from the boat Sheksna which is actually the name of one of the rivers that made up the Mariinskii Canal system. I’m guessing whether that the boat operated along that river only or the entirety of the canal system. The canal system is now renamed as the Volga-Baltic waterway and still operates today. The building of the Mariinski Canal system showed the development of Russia’s interior from the early 1700’s through the 1900’s.