Records indicated that in the 13th Century flagellants immigrated from Southern Europe. I guess, they didn’t whip themselves too hard, otherwise they wouldn’t have made it to a place that might harbor waterborne deceases. Later on, in the 16th Century, Mennonites moved into the area, a radical protestant group that had enough of Catholic Rule. At the same time, peat extraction became a major source of income. To transport the peat, ditches and canals were dug. Two major floods (1776 and 1825) washed away vulnerable drying banks, creating large lakes around Giethoorn. I assume, wealth from the peat digging helped to built the beautiful homes and alter nature into this picturesque Wonderland … In the past, there were no roads, all transport was done using the canals. Today, bike paths exist, and if you don’t watch out, you might go for a swim.
In a way, those were already so called modern humans that didn’t want too much garden to take care of, keeping their plots manageable, homes sizable, and those nasty neighbors across the canal.