Template:Otheruses Template:Canadian province or territory Ontario is the most populous and second-largest in area of Canada's ten provinces. It is found in east-central Canada. Its capital is Toronto. Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is also located in Ontario. As of July 1, 2005 there are 12,541,410 Ontarians (residents of Ontario), representing approximately 37.9% of the total Canadian population and an area of 1,076,395 square kilometres (415,598 sq. mi.).



Ontario is bounded on the north by Hudson Bay and James Bay, on the east by Quebec, on the west by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Ontario's long American border is formed almost entirely by lakes and rivers, starting in Lake of the Woods and continuing to the Saint Lawrence River near Cornwall; it passes through the four Great Lakes Ontario shares with bordering states, namely Lakes Superior, Huron (which includes Georgian Bay), Erie, and Ontario (for which the province is named; the name Ontario itself is a corruption of the Iroquois word "Onitariio" meaning "beautiful lake" or "Kanadario," variously translated as "beautiful water"). There are approximately 250,000 lakes and over 100,000 kilometres (62,000 mi) of rivers in the province.

The province consists of three main geographical regions:


Despite the absence of any mountainous terrain in the province, there are upland regions within the Canadian Shield which traverses the province from northwest to southeast and above the Niagara Escarpment in the south. The highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693m above sea level located in Northeastern Ontario.

The Carolinian forest zone covers most of the southwestern section, its northern extent is part of the Greater Toronto Area at the western end of Lake Ontario. The most significant geographic feature in the south is the Niagara Escarpment which flows from Niagara Falls to Tobermory. The Saint Lawrence Seaway allows navigation to and from the Atlantic Ocean as far inland as Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario occupies roughly 85% of the surface area of the province; conversely Southern Ontario contains 94% of the population (see article Geography of Canada).

Point Pelee National Park is a peninsula in southwestern Ontario (near Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan) that extends into Lake Erie and is the part of Canada's mainland furthest south. Pelee Island in Lake Erie is even further south. Both are south of 42°N – slightly further south than the northern border of California.


Population of Ontario since 1851Edit

Year Population Five Year
 % change
Ten Year
 % change
Rank Among
1851 952,004 n/a 208.9 1
1861 1,396,091 n/a 46.6 1
1871 1,620,851 n/a 16.1 1
1881 1,926,922 n/a 18.9 1
1891 2,114,321 n/a 9.7 1
1901 2,182,947 n/a 3.2 1
1911 2,527,292 n/a 15.8 1
1921 2,933,662 n/a 16.1 1
1931 3,431,683 n/a 17.0 1
1941 3,787,655 n/a 10.3 1
1951 4,597,542 n/a 21.4 1
1956 5,404,933 17.6 n/a 1
1961 6,236,092 15.4 35.6 1
1966 6,960,870 11.6 28.8 1
1971 7,703,105 10.7 23.5 1
1976 8,264,465 7.3 18.7 1
1981 8,625,107 4.4 12.0 1
1986 9,101,695 5.5 10.1 1
1991 10,084,885 10.8 16.9 1
1996 10,753,573 6.6 18.1 1
2001 11,410,046 6.1 13.1 1

Source: Statistics Canada [1]

Ethnic GroupsEdit

Ethnic Origin Population Percent
Canadian 3,350,275 29.69%
English 2,711,485 24.03%
Scottish 1,843,110 16.33%
Irish 1,761,280 15.61%
French 1,235,765 10.95%
German 965,510 8.56%
Italian 781,345 6.92%
Chinese 518,550 4.59%
Dutch (Netherlands) 436,035 3.86%
East Indian 413,415 3.66%
Polish 386,050 3.42%
Ukrainian 290,925 2.58%
North American Indian 248,940 2.21%
Portuguese 248,265 2.20%

The information regarding ethnicities below is from the 2001 Canadian Census. The percentages add to more than 100% because of dual responses (e.g. "French-Canadian" generates an entry in both the category "French" and the category "Canadian".) Groups with greater than 200,000 responses are included.

The major Religious Groups in Ontario are[1]:

Increasing immigration from all parts of the world, especially to Toronto and its environs, is rapidly diversifying the province's ethnic makeup. Slightly less than five per cent of the population of Ontario is Franco-Ontarian, that is those whose native tongue is French, usually in addition to English.

10 largest Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) by population

Statistics Canada's measure of a "metro area", the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) roughly bundles together population figures from the core municipality with those from "commuter" municipalities. [2]

CMA (largest other included municipalities in brackets) 2005 (est.) 2001
Toronto CMA (Mississauga, Brampton) 5,304,100 4,883,800
Ottawa–Gatineau CMA, Ontario part (Clarence-Rockland, Russell) 870,616 806,096
Hamilton CMA (Burlington, Grimsby) 714,900 689,200
London CMA (St. Thomas, Strathroy-Caradoc) 464,300 449,600
Kitchener CMA (Cambridge, Waterloo) 458,600 431,300
St. Catharines–Niagara CMA (Niagara Falls, Welland) 396,900 391,700
Oshawa CMA (Whitby, Clarington) 340,300 308,500
Windsor CMA (Lakeshore, LaSalle) 332,300 320,800
Barrie CA (Innisfil, Springwater) 165,000 148,480
Greater Sudbury CMA (Whitefish Lake & Wahnapitei Reserves) 161,100 161,500

10 largest municipalities by population

City 2001 1996
Toronto (provincial capital) 2,481,494 2,385,421
Ottawa (national capital) 808,391 721,136
Mississauga (part of Greater Toronto) 612,925 544,382
Hamilton 499,268 467,799
London 336,539 325,669
Brampton (part of Greater Toronto) 325,428 268,251
Markham (part of Greater Toronto) 208,615 173,383
Windsor 208,402 197,694
Kitchener 190,399 178,420
Vaughan (part of Greater Toronto) 182,022 132,549


File:Lake Ontario - Sandbanks Provincial Park 2001.jpg

Southern Ontario's climate is humid continental (Koppen climate classification Dfa-Dfb), with relatively hot, humid summers and cold winters. It is considered a temperate climate when compared with most of Canada. In the summer, the air masses often come out of the southern United States, as the stronger the Bermuda high pressure ridges into the North American continent, the more warm, humid air is transported northward from the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout the year, but especially in the fall and winter, temperatures are moderated somewhat by the Great Lakes, making it considerably milder than northern Ontario and similar latitudes in the continent's interior. Both spring and fall are generally pleasantly mild with cool nights.

The open lakes result in lake effect snow squalls on the eastern and southern shores of the lakes, which affect much of the Georgian Bay shoreline including Killarney, Parry Sound District, Muskoka and Simcoe County; the Lake Huron shore from east of Sarnia northward to the Bruce Peninsula, sometimes reaching London. Wind-whipped snow squalls or lake effect snow can affect areas as far as 100 kilometres (62 mi) or greater from the shore, but the heaviest snows usually occur within 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the shoreline.

Northern Ontario has a more extreme continental climate (Koppen Dfb-Dfc) with long, very cold winters and short, warm to hot summers. In the summer, hot weather occasionally reaches even the northernmost parts of Ontario, although humidity is generally lower than in the south. With no major mountain ranges blocking Arctic air masses, winters are generally very cold, especially in the far north and northwest (where a subarctic climate is found). The snow stays on the ground much longer in the region too; the first snowfall often comes in October and the last snow can come as late as May. The climate is moderated considerably on the east shore of Lake Superior, another snowbelt exists there.

Severe thunderstorms peak in frequency in June and July in most of the province, although in southern Ontario they can happen anytime from March to November due to the collision of cold Arctic air and warm Gulf air. The most severe weather prone regions are southwestern and central Ontario, much of them resulting from the Lake Breeze Front 1. London has the most lightning strikes per year, and is also one of the most active areas for storms, in Canada. Tornadoes are also common throughout the province, especially in the southwestern part, although they are rarely destructive, the vast majority are classified as F0 or F1 on the Fujita Scale. In northern Ontario, some tornadoes go undetected by ground spotters due to the sparse population; however destruction to forests seen by aircraft pilots after the event is often how they are spotted.

File:Toronto Downtown Core at Night.jpg


Ontario's rivers, including its share of the Niagara River, make it rich in hydroelectric energy. Hydroelectric energy makes up about 25% of the electric power generation in Ontario with the majority being nuclear power, 51%, and fossil fuels, mostly coal and an increasing share of natural-gas, round off the remaining supply mix with a relatively minute amount of wind and solar sources currently coming on line. Since the privatization of Ontario Hydro which began in 1999, Ontario Power Generation runs 85% of electricity generated in the province, but not the transmission of power, which is under the control of Hydro One.

This steady supply of electricity production along with an abundance of natural resources and an excellent transportation link to the American heartland, has contributed to making manufacturing the principal industry, found mainly in the Golden Horseshoe region, the most industrialized area in Canada. Important products include motor vehicles, iron, steel, food, electrical appliances, machinery, chemicals, and paper. Ontario surpassed the American state of Michigan in car production, assembling 2.696 million vehicles in 2004 (see Canada-United States Automotive Agreement).

However, as a result of steeply declining sales, on November 21, 2005, General Motors announced massive layoffs at production facilities across North America including two large GM plants in Oshawa and a drive train facility in St. Catharines which by 2008 will result in 8,000 job losses in Ontario alone. Subsequently in January 23, 2006 money losing Ford Motor Co. announced between 25,000 and 30,000 layoffs phased until 2012, Ontario was spared the worst, but job losses were announced for the St. Thomas facility and the Windsor casting plant. These losses will be offset by Ford's recent announcement of a hybrid vehicle facility slated to begin production in 2007 at its Oakville plant. Toyota also announced its plans to build a RAV-4 production facility in Woodstock by 2008 and Honda also has plans to add an engine plant at its large facility in Alliston.

Some economists believe that the North American Free Trade Agreement has contributed to a decline in manufacturing in part of North America's manufacturing "Rust Belt" that includes a portion of Southern Ontario from roughly Windsor east to St. Catharines (50km south of Toronto). This area and the Greater Toronto region contain the bulk of the auto sector in the province. The biggest contributing factor is the increased globalization and particularly the increasing manufacturing power from China that has led to the de-industrialization of Ontario and the gradual shift to a dominant service-oriented economy. These factors considered, Ontario still remains an industrial giant within North America.

Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the centre of Canada's financial services and banking industry. Suburban cities in the Greater Toronto Area like Brampton and Mississauga are large product distribution centres, in addition to having automobile related industries. The information technology sector is also important, especially in Markham, Waterloo and Ottawa. Hamilton is the largest steel manufacturing centre and Sarnia is the centre for the petrochemical production. Construction employs at least 7% of the work force, but due to undocumented workers this figure is likely over 10%. This sector has thrived over the last ten years due to steadily increasing new house and condominium construction combined with low mortgage rates and climbing prices, particularly in the Greater Toronto area. Mining and the forest products industry, notably pulp and paper, are vital to the economy of Northern Ontario. More than any other region, tourism contributes heavily to the economy of Central Ontario, peaking during the summer months owing to the abundance of fresh water recreation and wilderness found there in reasonable proximity to the major urban centres. At other times of the year, hunting, skiing and snowmobiling are among the out of high-season draws. This region has some of the most vibrant fall colour displays anywhere on the continent and tours directed at overseas visitors are organized to see them. Tourism also plays a key role in border cities with large casinos, among them Windsor and Niagara Falls which attract many US visitors.

Nominal Gross Domestic Product in 2003 was an estimated C$494.229 billion (40.6% of the Canadian total), larger than the GDP of Austria, Belgium or Sweden. Broken down by sector, the primary sector is 1.8% of total GDP, secondary sector 28.5%, and service sector 69.7%. Also, it's economic growth is expected to outpace France, Germany, and Japan in 2006.

Further economic information on provincial GDP etc. at Ontario Facts


400-Series Highways, including North America’s busiest, Highway 401 make up the primary vehicular network in the south of province and they connect to numerous border crossings with US, the busiest being the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Other provincial highways, the Trans-Canada highway and regional roads inter-connect the remainder of the province.

Via Rail operates the inter-regional passenger train service on the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. In addition Amtrak rail connects Ontario with US destinations, including Chicago and New York. Ontario Northland provides rail service to destinations as far north as Moosonee near James Bay, connecting them with the south. Freight rail is dominated by the founding cross-country CN and CP rail companies, which during the 1990s sold many short rail lines from their vast network to private companies operating mostly in the south. Regional Commuter rail is limited to the provincially owned GO Transit, which serves a train/bus network spanning the Golden Horseshoe region, its hub in Toronto. The TTC in Toronto operates the provinces only subway and streetcar system, the second busiest in North America. Outside of Toronto, the O-Train LRT line operates in Ottawa with ongoing expansion of the current line and proposals for additional lines.

Lester B. Pearson International Airport is the nation's busiest airport, handling approximately 30 million passengers per year. Other important airports include Ottawa International Airport and John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, which is also an important courier and freight aviation centre.

Many far northern destinations, mostly aboriginal communities that are beyond the existing road and rail network are accessible only by air.

On your travels to GTA, Canada we recommend using Pearson Airport Taxi Service and if you land on Toronto airport consider our partners Toronto Airport Taxi.

Professional SportsEdit

Template:Col-begin Template:Col-3 National Hockey League

Major League Baseball

American Hockey League

Minor League Baseball

Template:Col-3 Canadian Football League

National Basketball Association

National Lacrosse League

Major League Soccer

  • Toronto FC, expansion team to begin play in 2007.



Once the dominant industry, agriculture occupies a small percentage of the population. The number of farms has decreased from 68,633 in 1991 to 59,728 in 2001, but farms have increased in average size. Cattle, small grains and dairy were the common types of farms in the 2001 census. The fruit, grape and vegetable growing industry is located primarily on the Niagara Peninsula and along Lake Erie. The Ontario origins of Massey-Ferguson Ltd., once one of the largest farm implement manufacturers in the world, indicate the importance agriculture once had to the Ontario economy (see Geography of Canada for more detail).



Before the arrival of the Europeans, the region was inhabited both by Algonquian (Ojibwa, Cree and Algonquin) and Iroquoian (Iroquois and Huron) tribes. The French explorer Étienne Brûlé explored part of the area in 1610-12. The English explorer Henry Hudson sailed into Hudson Bay in 1611 and claimed the area for England, but Samuel de Champlain reached Lake Huron in 1615 and French missionaries began to establish posts along the Great Lakes. French settlement was hampered by their hostilities with the Iroquois, who would ally themselves with the British.


Map of Ontario, showing CMA's and CA's

The British established trading posts on Hudson Bay in the late 17th century and began a struggle for domination of Ontario. The 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years' War by awarding nearly all of France's North American possessions (New France) to Britain. The region was annexed to Quebec in 1774. From 1783 to 1796, the United Kingdom granted United Empire Loyalists leaving the United States following the American Revolution 200 acres (0.8 km²) of land and other items with which to rebuild their lives. This measure substantially increased the population of Canada west of the St. Lawrence-Ottawa River confluence during this period, a fact recognized by the Constitutional Act of 1791, which split Quebec into The Canadas: Upper Canada southwest of the St. Lawrence-Ottawa River confluence, and Lower Canada east of it. John Graves Simcoe was appointed Upper Canada's first Lieutenant-Governor in 1793.

American troops in the War of 1812 invaded Upper Canada across the Niagara River and the Detroit River but were successfully pushed back by British and Native American forces. The Americans gained control of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, however, and during the Battle of York occupied the Town of York (later named Toronto) in 1813. Not able to hold the town, the departing soldiers burned it to the ground.

After the War of 1812, relative stability allowed for increasing numbers of immigrants arriving from the British Isles. From a mostly agrarian based society canal projects spurred on greater trade within the colony and later with the United States, despite the recent conflict.

As the population began to increase, many in the colony began to chafe against the aristocratic Family Compact that governed while benefitting economically from the regions resources, much as the Château Clique ruled Lower Canada. Accordingly, rebellion in favour of responsible government rose in both regions; Louis-Joseph Papineau led the Lower Canada Rebellion and William Lyon Mackenzie led the Upper Canada Rebellion. For more on the rebellions of 1837, see History of Canada.

Although both rebellions were crushed in short order, the British government sent Lord Durham to investigate the causes of the unrest. He recommended that self-government be granted and that Lower and Upper Canada be re-joined in an attempt to assimilate the French Canadians. Accordingly, the two colonies were merged into the Province of Canada by the Act of Union (1840), with Ontario becoming known as Canada West. Parliamentary self-government was granted in 1848. Due to heavy immigration the population of Canada West more than doubled by 1851 over the previous decade, and as a result for the first time the English-speaking population of Canada West surpassed the French-speaking population of Canada East tilting the representative balance of power.

An economic boom in the 1850s coincided with railway expansion across the province further increasing the economic strength of Central Canada.

A political stalemate between the French- and English-speaking legislators, as well as fear of aggression from the United States during the American Civil War, led the political elite to hold a series of conferences in the 1860s to effect a broader federal union of all British North American colonies. The British North America Act took effect on July 1, 1867, establishing the Dominion of Canada, initially with four provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. The Province of Canada was divided at this point into Ontario and Quebec so that each linguistic group would have its own province. Both Quebec and Ontario were required by section 93 of the BNA Act to safeguard existing educational rights and privileges of the Protestant and Catholic minorities. Thus, separate Catholic schools and school boards were permitted in Ontario. However, neither province had a constitutional requirement to protect its French- or English-speaking minority. Toronto was formally established as Ontario's provincial capital at this time.

From 1867 to 1896Edit

Once constituted as a province, Ontario proceeded to assert its economic and legislative power. In 1872, the lawyer Oliver Mowat became premier, and remained as premier until 1896. He fought for provincial rights, weakening the power of the federal government in provincial matters, usually through well-argued appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. His battles with the federal government greatly decentralized Canada, giving the provinces far more power than John A. Macdonald had intended. He consolidated and expanded Ontario's educational and provincial institutions, created districts in Northern Ontario, and fought tenaciously to ensure that those parts of Northwestern Ontario not historically part of Upper Canada (the vast areas north and west of the Lake Superior-Hudson Bay watershed, known as the District of Keewatin) would become part of Ontario, a victory embodied in the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889. He also presided over the emergence of the province into the economic powerhouse of Canada. Mowat was the creator of what is often called Empire Ontario.

Beginning with Sir John A. Macdonald's the National Policy (1879) and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1875-1885) through Northern Ontario and the Prairies to British Columbia, Ontario manufacturing and industry flourished.

From 1896 to the presentEdit

Mineral exploitation accelarated in the late 19th century, leading to the rise of important mining centres in the northeast like Sudbury, Cobalt and Timmins. The province harnessed its water power to generate hydro-electric power, and created the state-controlled Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, later Ontario Hydro. The availability of cheap electric power further facilitated the development of industry. The Ford Motor Company of Canada was established in 1904. General Motors of Canada Ltd. was formed in 1918. The motor vehicle industry would go on to become the most lucrative industry for the Ontario economy.

In July 1912, the Conservative government of Sir James P. Whitney issued Regulation 17 which severely limited the availability of French-language schooling to the province's French-speaking minority. French-Canadians reacted with outrage, journalist Henri Bourassa denouncing the "Prussians of Ontario". It was eventually repealed in 1927.

Influenced by events in the United States, the government of Sir William Hearst introduced prohibition of alcoholic drinks in 1916 with the passing of the Ontario Temperance Act. Prohibition came to an end in 1927 with the establishment of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario by the government of George Howard Ferguson. The sale and consumption of liquor, wine, and beer are still controlled by some of the most extreme laws in North America to ensure that strict community standards and revenue generation from the alcohol retail monopoly are upheld.

The post-World War II period was one of exceptional prosperity and growth. Ontario, and the Greater Toronto Area in particular, have been the recipients of most immigration to Canada. Changes in federal immigration law have led to a massive influx of non-Europeans since the 1980s. From a largely ethnically British province, Ontario has now become very culturally diverse.

The nationalist movement in Quebec, particularly after the election of the Parti Québécois in 1976, contributed to driving many businesses out of Quebec to Ontario, and Toronto surpassed Montreal as the largest city and economic centre of Canada.

Ontario has no official language, but English is considered the de facto language. Numerous French language services are available under the French Language Services Act of 1990.


File:Logo of the Government of Ontario.png
File:Ontario Legislative Assembly, Toronto, May 2006.jpg

The British North America Act 1867 section 69 stipulated "There shall be a Legislature for Ontario consisting of the Lieutenant Governor and of One House, styled the Legislative Assembly of Ontario." The assembly has 103 seats representing ridings elected in a first-past-the-post system across the province. The legislative buildings at Queen's Park in Toronto are the seat of government. Following the Westminster system, the leader of the party currently holding the most seats in the assembly is known as the "Premier and President of the Council" (Executive Council Act R.S.O. 1990). The Premier chooses the cabinet or Executive Council whose members are deemed "ministers of the Crown." Although the Legislative Assembly Act (R.S.O. 1990) refers to members of the assembly, the legislators are now commonly called MPPs (Members of the Provincial Parliament) in English and députés de l'Assemblée législative in French, but they have also been called MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly), and both are acceptable. The title of Prime Minister of Ontario, while permissible in English and correct in French (le Premier ministre), is generally avoided in favour of "Premier" to avoid confusion with the Prime Minister of Canada.


Ontario has traditionally operated under a three-party system. In the last few decades the liberal Ontario Liberal Party, conservative Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, and social-democratic Ontario New Democratic Party have all ruled the province at different times.

Currently Ontario is under a Liberal government headed by Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Federally, Ontario is known as being the province that offers the strongest support for the Liberal Party of Canada. The majority of the party's present 101 seats in the Canadian House of Commons represent Ontario ridings. As the province has the most seats of any province in Canada, earning support from Ontario voters is considered a crucial matter for any party hoping to win a Canadian Federal Election.


Territorial evolution 1788-1899Edit

Land was not legally subdivided into administrative units until a treaty had been concluded with the native peoples ceding the land (see Royal Proclamation of 1763). In 1788, while part of the Province of Quebec (1763-1791), southern Ontario was divided into four districts: Hesse, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Nassau.

In 1792, the four districts were renamed: Hesse became the Western District, Lunenburg became the Eastern District, Mecklenburg became the Midland District, and Nassau became the Home District. Counties were created within the districts.

By 1798, there were eight districts: Eastern, Home, Johnstown, London, Midland, Newcastle, Niagara, and Western.

By 1826, there were eleven districts: Bathurst, Eastern, Gore, Home, Johnstown, London, Midland, Newcastle, Niagara, Ottawa, and Western.

By 1838, there were twenty districts: Bathurst, Brock, Colbourne, Dalhousie, Eastern, Gore, Home, Huron, Johnstown, London, Midland, Newcastle, Niagara, Ottawa, Prince Edward, Simcoe, Talbot, Victoria, Wellington, and Western.

In 1849, the districts of southern Ontario were abolished by the Province of Canada and county governments took over certain municipal responsibilities. The Province of Canada also began creating districts in sparsely populated Northern Ontario with the establishment of Algoma District and Nipissing District in 1858.

The northern and western boundaries of Ontario were in dispute after Confederation. Ontario's right to Northwestern Ontario was determined by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1884 and confirmed by the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. By 1899, there were seven northern districts: Algoma, Manitoulin, Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, and Thunder Bay. Four more northern districts were created between 1907 and 1912: Cochrane, Kenora, Sudbury and Timiskaming.

See alsoEdit

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  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named demographics
  • Michael Sletcher, 'Ottawa', in James Ciment, ed., Colonial America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History, (5 vols., M. E. Sharpe, New York, 2006).

External linksEdit

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