You can forget canals for moving other than bulk. They suffer from all the problems of rail and more (limited geographical coverage, problems in hilly terrain, expensive infrastructure, inflexibility and hopelessly uneconomic for small batches to which you can add that they are incredibly slow and require vast amounts of manpower). Canals will only make sense on flat terrain for large, bulk loads and are wholly useless as a way of distributing things like food to shops.
In the case of rail there did, indeed, used to be a system in the UK of distributing small, mixed loads from railheads and depots. However, it died in the 1960s because it was essentially hopeless. I recall from my childhood the local rail depot with lots of tiny little loads being hauled out around the locality on trailers towed by little three wheel tractor units like this one.
The whole process was hopeless. All the multi-handling and scheduling of mixed loads into goods vans and the shuffling around and shunting to make it work was dreadful. Cans stuck in sidings, goods taking weeks to traverse the system and being man-handled between goods vans, from and onto road vehicles. Not only was it disastrously inefficient, it was also not very energy efficient either. Both canal and rail only worked at all because, at the time, there were vast amounts of very cheap labour available. Those days dies with the Edwardians.
Rail only make sense as point-to-point delivery of bulk deliveries. By all means deliver a trainload of stuff from the dockside to a distribution depot.
I'm sorry to dissapoint the rail folk, but the economics are disastrous for any other use of moving goods. For moving small, mixed, workloads to multiple locations, the use of road transport is generally much more efficient in both cost and energy terms. Mixed-load rail systems often involved horribly convoluted journeys. Then there is the terrifying cost of installing, maintaining and operating rail infrastructure.
It's not even as if rail is necessarily more energy efficient that road transport. Look up the CO2 emmissions per passenger mile of an inter-city train and a coach. The latter is far more efficient, especially when the required infrastructure is taken into account. Passenger densities on rail are dreadful (all those enormous gaps between trains for safety reasons) and very inflexible.
So keep rail for high speed alternatives to flying, and for local commuting in densely populated areas (where bulk movement of people through dedicated paths can make sense). But for general distribution - it's a dead duck that hasn't quacked for several decades and isn't going to get revived.