Trip to O’Derin, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland

27 Aug, 2009

This weekend past my friends and I visited O’Derin. It’s a small island in the middle of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. It takes about an hour to get there by boat from the near harbour.

O'Derin Symbol

O’Derin was once a small collection of fishing communities of Catholics and Anglicans. At its peak there were approxiamately 250 people living on this island. Now there is no one.

O'Derin Abandoned Dock

The father of one of my friends grew up on O’Derin just prior to the resettlement. His old home is one of the few remaining buildings on this desserted island. Half of those buildings are now summer cabins. The rest are rotting apart.

O'Derin Remaining Buildings

Many of the old residents towed their homes off the island when they had to resettle. An arial photograph of the area from the 1950’s shows many buildings all round the island. Almost none of those buildings are still standing.

O'Derin Rubble

Other buildings have unknown origins. This concrete foundation below may have belonged to a church long since gone. Now there are fully grown trees growing up through it.

O'Derin Cement Foundation

The scenary on this island is absolutely stunning.

Scenary of O'Derin

The island is the perfect size for anyone visiting. It’s just large enough that there’s plenty to do and see but just small enough that you can walk anywhere.

Pirate Treasure

O'Derin Pirate Treasure Pond

O’Derin has its very own pirate treasure myth. The story goes that in the 18th century pirates landed on the shores of of this island and buried their treasure at the bottom of a shoreline gully. They say the bottom of this minature pond has wooden planks covering the treasure.

O'Derin Pirate Treasure Pond Trench

About fifteen years ago an ambitious man who was aware of the pirate treasure myth took it upon himself to seek it out. His strategy was to drain the water from the gully and dig from there. He dug a trench that lead from the gully to the ocean, which is about 30 metres. Today the trench remains 4-5 feet deep.

The story goes that he spent years of his life digging the trench and got no where. As quick as the water drained from the pond it filled back up. He retrieved no treasure.

There is another story of grave robbers digging up a set of old 18th century french graves hoping to find the treasure.

Anglican Graveyard

There was a graveyard at the top of one of the hills, but it wasn’t your typical graveyard.

O'Derin Grave

All of the graves were scattered amongst the trees in the woods. Some were in some pretty thick bush.

O'Derin Forest Graveyard

There were even some that had been there so long that trees had grown near them with branches pushing the marble of the headstones over.

O'Derin Forest Graveyard

Many of the tombstones werer over 100 years old. The average lifespan on this island seems to have been between 10 and 30 years old. Many young kids buried here. It’s not unbelievable when you see some of the dangerous cliffs and the waves crashing in on all sides.

O’Derin is a very beautiful and interesting island and I cannot wait to revisit.

About the author

Gregory

I am an ex-pat Newfoundlander who has uprooted and moved to the big city of Toronto. I develop web applications for work and for fun. I play ultimate and ice hockey year-round and camp every chance my girlfriend will let me.

83 Comments

  1. Kristen
    August 28, 2009

    Hey Greg,

    Loved the post and the pictures. I’m going to suggest to my boyfriend (who is from Placentia Bay) that we go check out the area! Amazed by the old cemetary.

    Take care!

  2. November 18, 2009

    Great pictures, thank-you.

  3. Angela (Lake) Davidson
    November 18, 2009

    My father,Cecil Lake, grew up in Oderin. I visit there with my siblings twice. Unfortunately, it was after resettlement. My grandfather is buried in the cemetary on top of the hill on the north side. There is a big tree growing up in front of this headstone. We have plans to revisit this island and cut down the that tree and maybe many others.

    I like your pictures

    Angela

    • April 17, 2015

      My Grandfather Solomon Lake,was from the island and my and my father,Patrick and his sister Mary grew up there until their teens and moved to Corner Brook
      The story i was told ,there were three brothers named Lake that moved to Newfoundland around 1800
      They were Protestant but one of them married an Irish Catholic woman,hence his descendants are also Catholic.
      I would like to talk to anyone to learn more about our roots. Tele.709-643-3451

      • April 17, 2015

        My great great Grand mother. .Ellen Lake was born in Oderin in 1835..She married Patrick Henry Murphy from Oderin and had 14 children. .Most of them moved to Mundy Pond a community in St.John’s

      • April 19, 2015

        I have a family history file on Solomon Lake…trying to attach but having trouble

  4. S Myles
    November 18, 2009

    Oderin is a wonderful spot. I have visited there 5-6 times and will go back again. My father originally came from Oderin and left there to work in St. John’s when he finished school.

  5. Anna Angel-Woolgar
    November 19, 2009

    As Winter bends in to have its first look @ O’Derin. P.B., it’s amazing to me just how strong, brilliant and eager for a life of their own our forefathers were! Imagine giving birth in the middle of a storm – hours away from – well, nothing, really. Placentia was building itself and wouldn’t have had much to offer other than the practised midwife. Chief Justice, Robert Stafford Furlong, Q.C., was born on O’Derin. One of MANY famous, infamous and ordinary people who took the sdpot where they landed as their own and made something of it!. Much FURLONG HISTORY – eg., family of Hon. Joseph Furlong and his lineage existing today all over. (The picture is so poignant – where the headstones are surrounded by tall, thin, fur trees. Looks like one stone has become an “arm” if you will – an arm reaching out to the lower one. Almost seems to say, ” I’m here, girl. I’ll getcha uup da once! Anna.

  6. Cathy Forster
    November 25, 2009

    Great pictures and I hope to return to Oderin soon to visit the island!

  7. elaine pain
    February 24, 2010

    so wonderful to see these pictures. One of my ancestors was born on crow island in 1779 but moved to cape breton when he came of age. I have always wanted to visit the place but it seems so far away.

  8. March 31, 2010

    I enjoyed those beautiful pics of Oderin Island.It was the place of my birth, grew up ther in the 30’s and 40’s. Left there when I was 17. I remember Cecil Lake visiting Oderin when I was a child . Knew his parents Bill and Angela Lake well. I was back there tw0 years ago and planning on going back again. It is a beautiful little spot, beautiful scenery.My parents were Thomas and Theresa Burton. I have two brothers …Bill and Pete.I have so many wonderful memories of that dear little Island. Thanks for sharing the pics.

    • August 21, 2014

      We are related, Helen Burton Kenny, my great, great grandfather was Patrick Manning & my great great great grandfather was William Manning, who was your great grandfather…am I right?

  9. Mark
    September 29, 2010

    I heard that the story of the gully with the wooden planks was actually on the flat islands just off of red harbour on the buirn penninsula.

  10. David Adey
    October 27, 2010

    I have no known connection to the place and came across the site web surfing. I do however, see how someone could fall in love with the place, it’s so beautiful. It’s sad to think about so many places that were abandoned and over time the names of the people and their stories are abandoned as well. Fortunately some people return and try their best to keep these communities alive. People need to write about these places and make beautiful web sites like this one and share it with the world. Hopefully, younger generations will have that need to find their roots and visit their ancestor’s beginnings.

    Thanks for sharing this web site.

  11. Brendan Mullett
    November 29, 2010

    Really enjoyed seeing your pictures.I was born on Oderin, and moved to Burin when Jude Lighthouse was shut down. My father was the lighthouse keeper and has transfered to Burin’s lighthouse.

    • April 27, 2016

      my family on my fathers side are mullets from oderin, i am a jarvis from oderin

  12. maude lockyer hollett
    February 09, 2011

    i lived on isle valen not far from oderin. isle valen was resettled to. so nice to see pictures like this. thank you

    • April 30, 2015

      Maud my moms family game from Isle a Valen and Tack’s Beach…there is a Tack’s Beach site …warrens, best’s and brown’s are our decendants

  13. Roxanne Hancock
    August 25, 2011

    @Helen Burton Kenny

    My husband’s family is from Oderin and we’ve been trying to get some information on his great-grandmother Elizabeth (young) Picco who married a William Lake. If you haven any information on the Lake family from Oderin I’d love to hear from you.

    Thanks
    Roxanne

    • April 30, 2015

      I have William married to Mary Jarvis(sometimes spelled Gervis) 1838…William married to Elizabeth Whittens…for all info on Oderin, Beaubois..some Rushoon..and Fox’s Cove…baptisms and marriages from 1833…St.Patrick’s Parish..RC, Burin…Box 1..2..3..Rooms..for older try Church of England …at the rooms

      • May 23, 2015

        My great great grandfather was John Jarvis known as Joseph he owned a schooner in oderin. Family later moved to st.john’s and settled in the battery.

    • December 19, 2016

      Elizabeth (young) picco who married Jim picco from st.josephs, then married William lake from st.josephs and at the age of 70 yr her first husband Jim picco passed away a young man, her second husband William lake passed away when she was 69 and then married a William cheeseman from Rushoon at 70 yr old and I got a pic of her my ggg grandmother , don’t know if she came from oderin

  14. Vincent Dicks
    November 08, 2011

    I am a descendant of Joseph Dicks and Mary Abbott, both residents of Oderin and Mortier on the Burin Peninsula. Before these great grand parents were my great great gp’s, John Dicks and Elizabeth Withers of Rock Harbour, Marystown area. Have long searched for records which continue my family history in the Placentia Bay. Maybe John Dicks was from Oderin or Rushoon, the search continues. Have a plan for next summer to visit the Island, leaving from Baine Harbour or Marystown (where I still have relatives) Great pictures which encourage my plan. Thanks.

  15. Terrance Murphy
    November 15, 2011

    hello, i am trying to do some history of my family, and I was told that my great grandfather was from O’Derin island, his name was John Murphy, and he married Bridget Power from Placentia, please if any one have info. of this or know more about the family, please drop me a line….thanks. terrance_p_w_murphy@hotmail.com

  16. Barbara (Wheeler) Boutcher
    May 28, 2012

    I AM VERY FAMILIAR WITH PLACENTI BAY, ALTHOUGH I HAVE NOT BEEN TO ANY OF
    THE PLACES THAT WERE RESETTLED.

    MY MOTHER(DECEASED) WAS FROM SOUTHERN HARBOUR.(ELLEN (NELLIE) BEST,
    AND MY HUSBAND WAS FROM KINGWELL.

    THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF ODERIN.

  17. August 21, 2014

    I just received a family tree document from my mother that begins with her grandmother’s father William Manning, married to Margaret Mullett who are both buried in Oderin Cemetary. Margaret was 95 years old when she died in 1898, although I’m not sure of the accuracy even though the document mentions their birth & death dates are recorded on the headstones. One of their children, Monica married William Lake…I think someone was asking about the Lake name. Margaret Manning and John Walsh were my great grandparents from Oderin. He died of the Spanish Flu in 1918. She remarried in St. John’s, so I’m not certain when she left the island, but I have record that she sold my great grandfather, James’ fishing business & cod liver oil plant to Mr. Gib Benson. She also sold the two fishing schooners, “The Forget Me Not,” was sold to Mr. Ryan & he renamed it “The Trout.”

    It is quite an interesting read and has given me an urge to visit the place.

  18. September 11, 2014

    I just learned my great -grandfather came from oderin his name was Joseph Murphy he came to Mundy Pond in St.John’s and married an Ellen Dunne if anyone has any info can u please let me know

  19. September 16, 2014

    ELLEN DUNNE was born on 14 Oct 1871 in St John’s, Newfoundland. She died on 18 Jan 1917 in Ropewalk Range, Mundy Pond, Newfoundland. She married JOSEPH MURPHY. He was born on 05 Jul 1868 in Oderin, Newfoundland.
    We have a full file on the descendants that followed…

    • April 28, 2015

      I took a DNA test that matched me with the Murphy’s of O’Derin Island. I would be interested to learn what you know about this family. We think our ancestor was Dan Murphy born about 1860. Thank you.

      John Murphy

      • April 28, 2015

        You are related to me….the first Daniel Murphy 1836-37 was born in Oderin…his brothers were Patrick and William….etc…. and I’m still putting the file together sifting through so much….Daniel and Patrick married two sisters Martha and Ellen Lake…then I believe the next Daniel married Bridget Power….I have most of all the siblings traced and their siblings…I am so so interested in hearing from you

        • April 29, 2015

          Hi Gail
          Thank you soooo much for getting back to me. We are just starting to work on this part of my family tree and could use all the help we can get. Anything you can share would be greatly appreciated. We think our young Daniel may have removed to Nova Scotia by 1885 and married a McGuinness but we are still working on that as well. We have a strong DNA link with a descendant of a Martha Murphy who married Tom Lundrigan about 1863. Still trying to understand the connection. Looking forward to hearing from you real soon…John

          • April 30, 2015

            for all info on Oderin, Beaubois..some Rushoon..and Fox’s Cove…baptisms and marriages from 1833…St.Patrick’s Parish..RC, Burin…Box 1..2..3..Rooms..for older try Church of England …at the rooms..my email is gailtaylor19@live.ca….have a file on some of the lake tree and lots on the Murphy’s….as you will notice the Murphy’s left Oderin and most moved to Mundy Pond and St.John’s with some going to the States and Nova Scotia…still could use some info on my tree….my direct descendant 1815 is James Murphy and Catherine Walsh.their son Patrick married to Ellen Lake are my greatgreatgrandparents..I .went to Ireland last year and I am going to Oderin in August…still tracing the Ireland parrish….I’ve traced them back to today’s date…just trying to fill in brothers and sisters…

          • April 30, 2015

            I have the marriage registry of Thomas Lundrigan marries Martha Murphy April 25th 1863..I never researched the Lundrigan tree but he had a brother William and sister Mary…its all in the Burin files

  20. February 17, 2015

    I’m not too sure how my family from L.I. N.Y. fits into these family trees but my grandmother Monica Manning White was born in Oderin on January 19, 189?. She moved to Brooklyn N.Y. as a young woman and then married a man. named Thomas White my grandfather from Burin. My father Patrick and his 2 brothers visited the island 20 yrs ago and took a ton of pictures of all of the island including his ancestors headstones. I find all of this info so interesting. My own daughter is 22yrs old and named Monica White in honor of my grandmother..

  21. February 25, 2015

    Angela, My grandmother, Francis Lake was from the island. I wonder if there was any relation. I am in search of any information before her time there (she would have been there in the early 1900’s). I was able to find a census with some relatives listed. I am from Boston and would like to visit there some day.

    • April 28, 2015

      Frances was born in 1844 to William lake and mary jervis([priest has it spelled as gervis and as the years go by and different priests it gets spelled as jervis

      • April 29, 2015

        Hmmm. My grandmother, Francis Lake, was born later. Not sure of the exact date. but and 1844 birth date would have put her at 100 in 1944. She lived until the 1990’s. I think she was 12 when she left O’Derin.

        • April 29, 2015

          The information I gave you was to assist you hopefully with your grandmothers ancestors …I know that the first Frances was born in 1844 to William and Mary and then sister Margaret 1850 ..joseph 1855..james 1860…Bridgett 1862 and peter 1865…could be more ….also their was a Frances Lake married to James Comack in 1865 and a Frances married to John Abbott….hope this helps

          • October 11, 2015

            Hi Gail,

            My great, great grandfather John Martin Dunphy and wife Ellen Burke lived on Oderin about 1857. They had 9-10 children including my great grandfather Joseph M. Dunphy. Do you have any research on the Dunphy’s on Oderin?

            Thanks,

            Bill Dunphy
            Phoenix, Arizona

          • October 12, 2015

            Sorry william,,,I don’t have much info on either family…

      • February 19, 2016

        Any information on Jarvis or Jervis would be interesting for me

  22. April 30, 2015

    Hi Gail
    Thank you soooo much for getting back to me. We are just starting to work on this part of my family tree and could use all the help we can get. Anything you can share would be greatly appreciated. We think our young Daniel may have removed to Nova Scotia by 1885 and married a McGuinness but we are still working on that as well. We have a strong DNA link with a descendant of a Martha Murphy who married Tom Lundrigan about 1863. Still trying to understand the connection. Looking forward to hearing from you real soon…John

  23. June 17, 2015

    Hi my name is Andrew Lundrigan , for the past three years been trying to find . ancestry of Thomas Lundrigan and Martha Murphy.My grandfather was James Lundrigan born Sept 1876 in .Oderin , Was Martha murphy born in oderin? Any information would be appreciated.

    Thank You
    Andrew Lundrigan

    • September 26, 2015

      Andrew can you send me your email address..mine is gailtaylor19@live.ca. ..

    • September 26, 2015

      Andrew just seeing this. .Martha was born in Oderin in 1846 married Thomas Lundrigan Feb13 1863..witnesses at there wedding were Samuel and Sarah Butler. .her parents were Walter Murphy and Bridget A.Ryan. .the clergy spelled this name Lonegan in the early 1800’s

  24. July 28, 2015

    Did anyone do a history of the Jarvis in Oderin?

    • November 03, 2015

      Hi, Colin,
      My name is John Jarvis and I am searching for information on my greatgrandfather and my grandfather who lived in Oderin.
      Please make contact and we will try to help and possibly get some information as well.
      sincerely, John J. Jarvis

      • November 04, 2015

        Hi John..if I can help in anyway I will….you can email me at gailtaylor19@live.ca..kk

        • February 19, 2016

          John jarvis or Gail taylor can email me if they have any information. I have been searching Jarvis for many years – Burin area. Not sure if my Jarvis was an import or came from other areas around which seem to have Jarvis also.

          • April 27, 2016

            Has anyone been able to connect the Jarvis in Oderin to the Jarvis in Burin?

  25. July 30, 2015

    My family is Jarvis ‘s from oderin majority all live in St.john’s now.

  26. September 26, 2015

    Andrew Lundrigan,

    Thomas Lundrigan and Martha Murphy were my Greatgrndparents.

    • February 20, 2016

      Teresa had a Dna test done…my top matches are Collins..Pike…Clarke…

    • November 02, 2016

      Hi Teresa , trying to find if James Lundrigan was one of Thomas Lundrigan and Martha Murphy siblings.

  27. February 06, 2016

    Jim…..Your Dad is my cousin.Your Dad’s mother and my mother were sisters…..Monica & Theresa Manning born in Oderin.They had two brothers Jim & Bill.Their parents were Peter & Alice Manning.I lived in Brooklyn for a while with your Grandmother Monica. I came back to Newfoundland in 1956.I would like to know about your Dad, & brothers Bill & Tom.I knew Walter had passed away.I am 84 years old now & I live in Fermeuse, Newfoundland.I’ve been back to Oderin several times & would love to go once more..My name is Helen Burton Kenny.I’ve tried to give you my E- Mail but its not working , I’m not too experienced with the computer. lol. But I am on facebook.Would like to know about your Mother Mary too.Hope you get this message…would like to hear from you

  28. February 14, 2016

    Great to hear from you Helen Burton Kenny . From what I’ve been reading seems like Oderin was a wonderful community at one time, I gave my Uncle Tom your contact info. Does anyone know who lives on the Island now?

  29. February 19, 2016

    Any information on Jarvis or Jervis would be interesting for me

    • February 20, 2016

      Colin…you can email me directly…your Gervis /Jarvis married into my gg grandmother’s side of the family Ellen Lake daughter of Soloman and Mary Abbott from Oderin….I only researched any Gervis’s /Jarvis that pertained to me…Mary Jarvis married William Lake in 1838..they had 9 children…the other Jarvis’s I’ve come across within my research is William and Lucy Bradshaw 1863..Charles Jarvis..Sarah…and Margaret….I can send those records if you need them…gailtaylor19@live.ca

      • April 27, 2016

        Lucy Bradshaw is my great great grand mother

        • April 27, 2016

          Lucy was married my great grand father william jarvis , he was my fathers grand father , my father William Jarvis is still alive and very healthy

      • July 13, 2016

        Gail Taylor, yes I am interested in seeing anything you have on jarvis

  30. February 19, 2016

    Hi John will send some info over the weekend..

  31. February 19, 2016

    My great grandfather was John Jarvis from oderin.

    • April 27, 2016

      he would have been my great grand father William

      he would have been my great grand fathers brother … william jarvis

  32. February 20, 2016

    I was born on ODEARIN in may of 1962. Wow was not aware of all this history , some of it is familiar, my dads cabin is in one picture. My granddad emigrated to the island at one point from BOSTON. But had family ties there..His name was JOHN F. LAKE according to locals he was nicknamed BOSTON JACK, due to a few others on the island with the same name.

  33. February 20, 2016

    Charlie Jarvis was my grandfather and his first wife Sarah died during child birth and he married my grandmother Mary Francis (fowler) Jarvis after that.

    • February 23, 2016

      I have a record of daughter Mary …Charles Jarvis and Mary Fowlers’ daughter’s baptism St. Patrick’s Cathedral 1939..St. John’s …Frances is listed as from the Lower Battery St.John’s and Charles Jarvis …Harbour Grace…this is where he resided when he left Oderin….witnesses Rev. E. G. Kent and Vera Nash

  34. February 24, 2016

    Not sure about if he ever lived in Harbour grace but he did live in the battery in st.john’s ( the lower battery ) and he does have a daughter named Mary she lives in Florida. He has a daughter named Bridget and a son named Charlie and another daughter Theresa, and a daughter Elizabeth and 2 other sons Donald and Kevin. When his father John left oderin he settled in the battery in st.john’s as well.

    • February 24, 2016

      Krista read the record wrong Grace was the hospital Mary was born in…if you would like the original record I can email it to you

  35. February 24, 2016

    According to my father from what his grandfather told him growing up he owned a schooner. And that we were related to the lakes of oderin. We have a family bible. My great aunt Theresa gave to her grand- daughter. She was my grandfather Charlie’s younger sister. My grandfather Charlie was a longshoreman/ fisherman and supposedly according to my aunt he spent time in Harbour grace never really lived there but he loved to fish there. My grandmother Mary Francis was from cupids. My great aunt told me some of what she remembered growing up and many memories . She is no longer with us we have looked into some old photos and my dad says there were photos he remembered seeing of his great uncle and grandfather in oderin with many members of that community standing in front of an old stage or school house.

  36. February 24, 2016

    Just adding an entry here as my grandmother was from the island. Her name was Francis Lake and she married Edwin Short from St John’s. I have traced Edwin back to his father Bitkar James Short, but want to trace my grandmother Francis line as well.

    Not sure a visit to the island would help me out, but it seems like a nice place to visit knowing it is part of my family history.

  37. February 24, 2016

    Is this your grandmother
    1921 CENSUS
    Placentia & St. Mary’s District Oderin
    103 LAKE James M Head Married No Entry April 37 Oderin
    103 LAKE Bridget F Wife Married No Entry Dec 33 Oderin
    103 LAKE Frances F Daughter Single No Entry Nov 10 Oderin

  38. February 24, 2016

    Krista read the record wrong Grace was the hospital Mary was born in…if you would like the original record I can email it to you

  39. February 25, 2016

    I would love that. Thank you Gail

  40. March 11, 2016

    Hi teresa trying to find if my grandfather(James lundrigan) had any brothers or sisters.He was born oderin 1876 according to census

  41. April 27, 2016

    Hi Name,

    I have a birth date of 1909 for Frances Mary. Could the census be off by 2 years? Any way to confirm using Frances middle name?

  42. April 28, 2016

    Greg, my daughter and I have been working on this an haha taken a break. However we will be back up and running shortly and give you some of the info we. Thanks for your support. John Jarvis

  43. July 12, 2016

    Hi Gail, just wanted to add a little more to your Oderin history. My third great grandfather and my third great grandmother were both born in Oderin approx. 180. His name was John Smith and her name was Sarah. Their children who were also born on Oderin were, Mary b: 1821, John b: 1824, Joseph b:1825, Philip b:1828,
    Ann1 b:1830, Samuel b: 1832, Elizabeth b: 1835, Ann 2 b 1838, James b: 1848.

    They later moved to St. Patricks (or Patricks) Island and is listed on a Church Report there is 1848. The Smiths eventually moved to Baine Harbour and subsequently to Boat Harbour and Brookside. Some of the BMD records are in the Anglican Flat Island Parish records so there may be a connection to the Smith family on Flat Island.

    I have the rest of the family history up to today but I’m afraid that’s all I know about John and Sarah so if you have someone looking for this info, I’ve enclosed my email address.

    Thank you for what you have been doing.

    Velda Waye
    vwaye@accesswave.ca

  44. July 12, 2016

    Thanks so much for the update Velda

  45. November 20, 2016

    Loving the stories about Oderin. My family are O’Reilly from Placentia, Browne RC from Sound Island, Paradise. St Kyrans and Bar Haven, Leonard and Sullivan from St Kyrans. My DNA turned up a few relatives with the name Lake so you guys were a great help. My husband and I keep thinking we have to visit the islands- Oderin looks beautiful. Thanks for the info
    Brenda

  46. March 22, 2017

    My father, Cecil F. Lake, son of William Lake and Angela Mulroney of Great Paradise, was born on Oderin Island in 1913. My brother has traced our genealogy for three or more generations.

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