Canada was settled by a diverse group of Native Americans, some adapting to extrodinarily difficult climatic conditions. The country was colonized by the French as New France and to a lesser extent around Hudson Bay the English. The French sent the first large group of settlers (17th century). The French lost Canada, however, during the French and Indian Wars and in the peace neogitiations were more concerned with Caribbean sugar islands (1760s). The Canadians including the still strongly French populatin stayed loyal to Britain during the American Revolution (1770s). American and Canada share a great deal in common, including both geography and the tradition of English law and democracy. The connection is so strong that in many instances the two countries shared many historical experiences. The countries differed, however, as to their path toward independence. America broke with Britain in the Revolutionary War (1775-83), although it should be recognized that war was not entirely America's choice. Britain Royal Government resisted peaceful, constitutionzl change that could have prevented war. Canadians chose a gradual constitutional change, although often not recognized is the decree to which the Revolutionary War changed British attitudes toward its colonies, making gradual approaches possible. The status of Canada was a question in the War of 1812 between America and Britain. That was the last time invading armies crossed the border. The American-Canadian border developed into the longest de-militarized border in the world. The British administered Canada as a group of separate colonies. The separate colonies were federated and achieved dominin status (19th century). British Candians gradually dominated the colony and the French became second-class citzens even in Quebec. Britain, Canada, and America played a major role in resisting the totalitarian challenge of the 20th century. First they resisted the military expansion of authoritative Willimite Germany, then the effort of NAZI Germany to virtually destroy the Western heritage, and finally the totalitarian threat of the Soviet Union. Canada played an important role in both World Wars, loyally supporting Britain. After Dunkirk the First Canadian Division was the only fully equipped division prepared to resist a NAZI invasion. The Canadians played a major role in the Battle of the Atlantic gauarding convoy. The Canadian Army played an important role in the liberation of France. Despite Canada's role in liberating France, French Canadians were not enthusistic about the war effort. Canada was a staunch ally in the Cold War. Canada in the post-War era has addressed the grevinces of the French minority. It is today a respected independent bilingual, multicultural federation.
Canada was first settled by a diverse group of Native Americans. All Native American peoples trace their origins to small Siberian bands that made Ice Age migrations over the Bearing Sea land bridge through Alaska and western Canada, although there is considerable debate as to the chronology, path, and derails of that migration. The Native American people in the Arctic north adapted to extrodinarily difficult climatic conditions, coditions that even drove the hearty Vikings back. Further south the Native Americans were more associated with peoples living in what is now the United States like the Eastern Woodland group and the North Pacific group.
The first Europeans to find Canada is a subject of historical controversy. Some archeologists have noted similarities between Native American clovis point arrowheads and spears and those of early medeival Europeans. There is more definitive information about Norse seafarers (the Vikings) discovering North America.
Norse seamen sailing from Iceland to Greenland appear to hve been blown far to the west and reported sighted land--presumably Labrador (985 AD).
The best known Viking seafarer was Leif Ericson. He is believed to be the first European to land in North America (about 1000 AD). This began the first of many Norse voyages to the northeastern coast of North America. The Vikings established a colony--Vinland. Its location was debzted for many years, but has been sited at the northernmost tip of Newfoundland.
The colony did not survive and was proably abandoned even before the Viking colony on Greenland (14th and 15th centuries). The Norse were a pre-literate people, more inclined to raid the settle lands of Western Europe than exchange scholorly notes on navigation. Rumors from the Norse sagas may have reached Western navigators, but not definitive accounts of these explortions. Nor did any maps if they were made survive. As a result, Canada had to be rediscoverd by other Europeans. It was more norther Ruropeans that focused on what is now Canada, including the Dutch, French, and English, although as with the Spanish, Italian navigators were again involved. King Henry VII sponsored the first English voyage of discovery. After news spread of Columbus' discoveries (1492), King Henry contracted an Italian navigtor, John Cabot, to find a new trade route to Asia for England. Cabot sailed west from Bristol, England (1497). Cabot did not find a new trade route. but encoutered the eastern coast of Canada. Cabot like Columbus, at first thought he had encontred Asia. Cabot in a second voyage chartered the coast from abot Baffin Bay as far south as Maryland. King Henry laud claim to North America as it slowly became clear to Europeans that the early explorers had discovered a new continent rather than Asia. The Europeans were disappointed because what they found in North America seemed paultry in compsrison to the vast quantities of gold and silver that the Spanish Conquistadores found to the south. The Europeans, however, gradually decided to persevere in the north. King Francis I of France sponsored another Italian navigator, the Florentine Giovanni da Verrazano, to conduct Frnce's first voyage of discovery. Verrazano sailed along the coast from North Carolina to Newfoundland (1524). This was the initial basis for France's claims. The fact that it overlapped with Cabot's earlier voyage was the initial step in the developing struugle between Englnd and France to control North America. King Francis dispatched Jacques Cartier on another voyage (1534). Cartier did not explore new lands, but subitted a much more detailed report and focused on what was to prove the mouth of the St. Larence River. The first European penetration of the interior began through the St. Lawrence River was begun by Cartier the following year (1535).
The first economic exploitation of North America came from a diverse group of European fishermen who began to harvest the rich cod grounds on the Grand Banks. We do not know just when this began, but it seems likly that it as before Columbus' voyages. European fishing fleets made annual visits to the eastern shores of Canada off Newfoundland--the Grand Banks. Both Spanish and Portuguee fishermn were invollved, including the Basque. Some French Bazque were surely involved. It was an inportant economic activity throughout the 16th century. Some hundreds of ships were involved. They brought hime to Europe their catch if cod. Dried cod (bacalao) became an important trade good and an staple of diets in Western Europe. Dried cod became used in many popular duhes. The annual catch was enormous and probably seemed limitless to 16th and 17th century century fishermen of the day. Since the fishermen made landfall and encoubtered Native Americans, the first trading with the North Americans. The Europeans found they could obtain valuable furs for inexpesive trinkets.
The first European penetration of the interior began through the St. Lawrence River was begun by Cartier (1535). The attraction was finding a possible passage to Asia, more than a desire to move inland. Carttier's fleet of three small vessels reached the Indian village of Stadacona, (close to modern Quebec City). He continued further upstream and 150 west encountered the Indian village Hochelaga (modern Montreal). This was as far up the St. Lawrence he could sail his vessels. He named the high ground beyound the village Mont Real. Here they wintered. Many perished in the cold before the survivors returned to France (Spring 1556). Thiswas mny decadeds before the first permanent English colony was founded. Cartier led his third, and probably his last, expedition into the St. Lawrence (1541). A new post was established at Cap-Rouge, a few miles upstream from Stadacona. This time Cartier had company. He was followed by Jean Francois de la Rocque, sieur de Roberval, and with a party of colonists who intended to stay. Cartier moved further west, but again did not find a passage leading to the Pacific. This time stayed the winter. On the way back toward the Atlantic he met the Roberval's party 'in three tall ships' in the harbor of what is today St. John's, Newfoundland.
Roberval was the senior officer and he ordered Cartier to accompany the colonizing party back up the St. Lawrence to Quebec. Cartier was, however, intent on returning to France and sailed under cover of darkness. Roberval without Crtier proceeded upstream and attempted to found a permanent settlement at the same location where where Cartier had wintered. The attempt was aisaster. Some 60 of the colonists died during the winter. Roberval abandoned the colonization effort and returned to France. Thus New France and the Canadian project would languish for another 60 years.
France following the voyges of expolorations attempted to found permanent colonies. Early attempts failed. The Fur Craze rekindled interest in the colonization effort. The experiece of Wuropean fishermen on the Grand Banls alerted the French Criwn to the availability of valuavle furs in North merica. The French Crown attmted to interest French nobels in founding a colony by offering a fur monopoly. A young geographer named Samuel de Champlain became the founder if New France. His first experiebce was at Port Royal on Nova Scotia, but he went on to found Quebec which became the French stronghold. From an early stage control of North America became an issue in the on-going competition between England and France. The colonization effort developed along very different lines in the English and French colonies. The English colonists pursued agriculture and developed along democratic lines. New France was centered on the fur trde and copied the feudal and absolutist model of France. The major outcome was that the French population in North america was very small while the English population reached substantial numbers in the colonies along the eastern seaboard. French ijnterest in NewFrance waslimited and the supression of the Hugenots limited that interest. The French also recreated the French political system in New France. Unlike the English colonies there was no separtion from France at an early point. The English Civil War cut off the colonies and a trditoin of colonial parliaments developed ith little or no royal supervision. Nothing like a democratic system developed in New France. The King appointed a governor, the senior colonial figure and representative of the King. Like the French monarch, he had virtual absolute power. He was responsible only to the monarchy, not the people of New France that he governed. King Louis XIV created a new post with the appointment of an intendant (1665). His duties were finance and the judicial system. This change in the colonial administration did not work well. There was considerable overlap between the responsibilities of the governor and intendant. This generated friction and complicated cooperation as only the king could resolve disputes. The English and French alo pursued different policies toward the Native Americans. The French perhaps because of their small population znd limited lznd usage developed amicble relztions with the ntive Americans. They also lzunched a mjor missionry activity. There was a major problemn with the Iriquois.
The British and French claims to North America overlapped. They also persued very different colonial policies. The English planted largely agricultural settlments based on family settlement along a narrow coastal strip. The colonies were quite diverse, including religious disenters. They set up colonial legislatures and during the English Civil war essentially goverened themselves. New France from the beginning was strictly Catholic and goverened directly from Paris. The French moved into the interior, but with small numbers of mostly men seeking furs. La Salle explored the length of the Mississippi to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico (1682). This gave France a claim to a vast area of North America, but made no real effort to settle it. And few Frenchmen were motivated to settle the wilderness. At the same time, the much larger English population was huddled east of the Appalachians. It was thus only a matter of time before the two Empires came into conflict. And this conflict would come in the Ohio Valley.
Furs attracted both the English and French. French control of the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes gave them access to a vast wealth of furs. Henry Hidson had layed claim to Hudson Bay in the far north. He had been looking fir the Northwest Passage. The British founded the Hudson Bay Colony (1670).
The French challenged the British claim and in a series of expeditions almost drove the English out. .
France and England fought Queen Anne's War (1702). This merged into a major European War--the War of the Spanish Secession (1701-14). The English captured Port Royal (1710). Relatively minor provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht ending the War involved North America (1713). France regonized English control of the Hudson Bay Territory, Newfoundland, and Acadia. France retained Cape Breton Island as well as the interior of North American. The French to secure what was left of New France began building a powerful fortress at Louisbourg on Cape Breton. The French at the time were the most skilled military engineers in Europe. Louisbourg was a major military based and positioned to guard the entrance to the St. Lawrence River--the gateway to New France. Louisbourg became the most powerful fortress in North America. Louisbourg was not only a defensive instalation, but became a sanctuary for French privateeers preying on shipping from the English colonies in New England. Sir William Pepperell led a force of New Englanders organized a force of 90 vessels and 4,000 men to attack Louisbourg (1745). After a 3-month seige, the French garison surrendered. France and Britain fought a relatively small war, King George's War. It was ended by the Treaty of Aix-la Chapelle (1748). Louisbourg was returned to the French. The British decided to build its own Atlantic bastion. Britain dispatched a fleet and 2,500 new settlers to constructv a city and fortress at Halifax on Nova Scotia (1749).
What might be considered the first world war, the Seven Years War (1756-63), began in North America. The first engagement was fought by of all people George Washington. The North American phase of the War was the French and Indian War (1754-63).
A Virginia militia unit commanded by Washington ventured into disputed territory in te Ohio Valley. The French and India War can be seen as part of the Seven Years War, but they are major differences. The Seven Years War was essentially a combined European War to limit the aggressions of Prussia's Frederick the Great. The French and Indian War was a war over colonial control of North America. They are related in that France was deeply involved in both wars and they occurred at roughly the same time. the French and India War was fought by Britain and its North American colonies against France and its Indian (Algonquian) allies. France's North American colonies had evolved differently than the British colonies. The more limited French emmigration and differing attitudes toward Native Americans enduced the Algonquians to fight on their side against the British.
The French lost Canada, however, during the French and Indian Wars and in the peace neogitiations were more concerned with Caribbean sugar islands (1760s).
The British defeated the French Army, but they had an enormous problem on their hands. French Canada was an enormous territory. And it was very lighly populated. There were about 60,000 French-speaking Europeans and a much larger Native Americn population. The loyalty of Britain's new French subjects was critical to governing the new territory. And a major test came with a Native American uprising (1763). Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, organized a major uprising. He had sided with the French and did not want tobow to English rule. The Ottawa attacked and reduced the British Great Lakes forts, massacring any survivors. Fort Detroit held out as the only British fort west of Lake Erie. It managed to hold out until fresh troops were moved west and the Indian uprising finally defeated. The Crown appointed a royal governor and council to govern Canada. Parliament eventually passed a permanent system to govern Canada--the Quebec Act (1774).
It was a generous effort to incorporate French Canadians into the British Empire. It was also the first step in the constitutional history of modern Canada. The boundaries of Quebec were extended south as far as the Ohio River valley. (This was an area claimed by the American colonies and thus a factor in the unfolding Revolutionary War.) The British also recognized the Roman Catholic church and its right to collect tithes. (This was at a time that the Roman Catholic Church in Britain itself was still restricted.) The British also recognized French civil law to govern the civil relations French Canadians with each other.
British criminal law was imposed in matters having to do with public order. The generosity of the Quebec Act suceeded in wining the loyaly of French Canadians. French Canada had been ruled by royal decree and, unlike the English colonies to the south, there was no colonial legislture. The British who were having difficulties at the time with the American colonial legislatures did not create any elected assembly in Canada.
The loyalty of French Canadians after the Quebec Act (1774) was soon tested. The increasingly instrasigent American colonies challenged British rule. Fighting broke out around Boton (1775). The Continental Congress finally declared independence (1776). Most Americans assumed that Canada would join the rebellion. The American colonists sent to armies north to defeat the relatively small British force in Canada and liberate the province. Richard Montgomery, took Montreal, in a surprise attack and almost captured Sir Guy Carleton, the British governor. The second American Army led by Benedict Arnold attacked Quebed. Carleton had aleted the garrison which held out. Arnold layed siege to the fortress and was joined by Montgomery. Arnold's campaign is a milestone of human endurance and military bravery. It is an example of how martial bravery and cuvic virtue are not synonamous. The fight for Quebec took place during the Canadian winter. Montgomery was killed and Arnold wounded. With the advent od Spring, the Americans reytrated south. It was the only campaign of the Revolutuinary War waged in Canada. The British used Canada, however, as ataging area for Burgoune's campign (1778). The Canadians including the still strongly French populatin stayed loyal to Britain during the American Revolution (1770s). American and Canada share a great deal in common, including both geography and the tradition of English law and democracy. The connection is so strong that in many instances the two countries shared many historical experiences. The countries differed, however, as to their path toward independence. America broke with Britain in the Revolutionary War (1775-83), although it should be recognized that war was not entirely America's choice. Britain Royal Government resisted peaceful, constitutionzl change that coild have prevented war. Canadians chose a gradual constitutional change, although often not recognized is the decree to which the Revolutionary War changed British attitudes toward its colonies, making gradual approaches possible.
The status of Canada was a question in the War of 1812 between America and Britain. Again Ameruican armies invaded Canada and British armies invaded America from Canada. The War Hawks in Congress were still convincedcthst the Canadians were anxious to join America. The Canadians, however, were even less inclined than during the Revolutionary War. The American invasion failed (1812-13). So did the British invasion. Again the Royal Navy could not support the British Army. Epic naval struggles occurred on Lake Erie and Lake Champaign. Unlike General Burgoyne, the British did not plunge into backwoods America in force. This was the last American attempt to seize Canada, but serious boundary issues remained.
The War of 1812 was the last time invading armies crossed the border. The border issues remained contentious and war as alate as the 1840s was possible, but in the end was resolved peacefully. The American-Canadian border developed into the longest de-militarized border in the world which continues to be the case today. .
Canada did not exist as a political unit, even a colonial unit until adter the mid-19th century. The British administered Canada as a group of separate colonies. Unlike America to the south there was little sence of a national identity. The term Canasa was not widely used and had not basis in law. Provincial leaders gradually began to think of a unified Canada. The American example was probably a powerful influence. And the American Civil War helped to promote discussions which focused on federation. The United States emerged from the Civil War as a still united country with enormous military power and political energy. It was clear to both British authorities and provincial leaders that obly federation would prevent at lkeast some of the provinces from being absorbed into the growing American colosus. And Irish immigrants in America helped to highlight the potential problem. Irish nationalism could not be supressed by the British in the Irish immigrant community of the United Stastes. The stringest expressiin was the virulently anti-English Fenians. They conceived of the idea of striking at Britain by invading Canada. The Fenias as a result of the Civil War had menbers with military experience. They carried out a series of border raids. British officials drove them back into America and U.S. authorities t\acted to porevent further such raids, but they were a clear illustration that Canada required a cetral authority and the event helped to generate a degree of nationalist sentiment which increased support for federaton. A conference was held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to discuss a federal union (1864). Macdonald with Brown and Cartier led a Canadian deleation and med with represenatives from the Maritimes. They agreed that the idea of federation had merit ad should be discussed in more detail. The result was the Quebec Conference held later in the year. The first major step toward federation was the resulting Seventy-Two Resolutions. This provided a basic framework for uniting the British provinces and colonies into a federation. A majority of the pf the provinces adopted them. This led to the London Conference (1866). As a result the Dominion of Canada was established (1867). Support for federation from both Britain and the provinces was obtained for a variety of reasons. And British policy favored some kind of union, in large part to establish a political force capable of resisting American expansionism and maintaining the rule of law, especially in the still lightly setteled prarie privinces. The economic future of the Maritimes required railroad connections with the interior. British-Canadian nationalism was developing and nationalisdt leaders saw a need for political union based on English law and language and British culture. French-Canadians saw an opportunity within the new Dominion to achieve political power in a new largely French-speaking Quebec. Many leaders thought that a Dominion parliment and provincisal parliasmens could end the contentios split between upper and lower Canada. The British Parliment passed the British North America Act (1867). This made the Province of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia became a federated kingdom which was to be termed a Dominion. The term recognized Canada's status as self-governing colony as Canada was the first. As in all federations, poltical differences centered on the strength of the central governmnt. One force was the liberal Reform movement of Upper Canada and the French-Canadian rouges in Lower Canada who supported a decentralized union. The Upper Canadian Conservative party and to some degree the French-Canadian bleus supported a strong central government. John A. Macdonald was chosen as the first prime minister.
The border with the United States was settled in the 1840s. The American purchase of Russian Alaska created another border issue (1867). It was not a pressing issue because of the remoteness and lack of populsation.
The Alaska-Canadian boundary disrequire setlement after gold was discovered in the Yukon (1898). There were no Canadian land connections with the Yukon. Prospectors had to cross American Alaska to reach the Yukon. Negotatins centered on th Lynn Canal and the port of Skagway, both possessed by the United States. Canadian and American authorities agreed to arbitration (1903). The British delegate sided with the Americans to the disgust of most Canadians eho saw the British posdition as focused on cementing good relations with aneric at the expenbse of Canadian interests. The lingering resentment toward the United Ststes was a factor in the defeat Wilfrid Laurier and his Liberal Party (1911). The Liberals had backed a reciprocal trade treaty with the United States. .S. that would lower tariff barriers. The Conservative who favoured protective tariffs and close ties with Britain won the election. Coservative Robert Borden became prime minisdter.
Britain, Canada, and America played a major role in resisting the totalitarian challenge of the 20th century. First they resisted the military expansion of authoritative Willimite Germany. Canada like America had no treaties with European countries. Canada was, however, not an independent country. Thus Britain’s declaration of war on Germany meant that Canada was also at war. Germany's plan was a quick victory against France following the Schliffen Plan (August 1914). France's victory at the Marne meant that there would be no quick German victory. This gave the Allies time to marshal their resources and for Britain this included the resources of the Dominions. The Canadian Army was deployed with the British n the Western Front. Most Canadians were volunteers. Military conceription became a major political issue in France. French Canadians in prticular were opposed to it, even though the primry purpose was to prevent the German conquest of France..
It has taken a while for Canadian national feeling to take root. At first it was primarily the idea that Canadians did not want to be Americans. (Something it took Americans two wars to figure out.) French Canadians at first decided that the British would protect their unique culture better than the Americans, the same calculation Native Americans made although with less success. And the English-speaking Canadians did not develop the same geviences that Americans did, perhaps there because there was not a long tradition of self rule in Canada as there was in America. As a result, at the turn of the 20th-century, many Canadians still thought of themselves as British more than Canadians as apparently does this boy in British Colombia and his parents (figure 1). A Canadian reader writes, "That was very common in all parts of English speaking Canada including predominately English areas in Quebec. What I believe is that during that era many Canadians still considered themselves to be 'British' if their parents, grandparents and even as far back as great grandparents came from Britain. This I have seen in writings and in speech especially amongst the rich and elite but it also occurred in the lower levels of society, but less often. There are still people today who use that term and again that is from some certain elements of the very wealthy who are rich mostly due to 'old family money'. I once read that as late as the early 1930s the Canadian Army had official set plans to attack the United States if ordered. I assume that had to be coordinated with Britain." The experiences of World War I and World War II finally made Canadians think of themselves as a country rather than just a Dominion. The adoption of the Maple Leaf (l'Unifolié) flag in 1965 was an expression of this. Many French Canadians, however, do not think of themselves as Canadians, especially in Quebec.
Next the Canadians with Britain and America resisted the effort of NAZI Germany to virtually destroy the Wesrern heritage. Canada played an important role in both World Wars, loyally supporting Britain. After Dunkirk the First Canadian Division was the only fully equipped division prepared to resist a NAZI invasion. The Canadians played a major role in the Battle of the Atlantic guarding convoys. The Royal Canadian Navy almost did not exist before the War and was rapidly expanded to a major naval force. The Canadians also hosted a major effort to train the air crews for the Strategic Bombing Campaign. Canadian industrial and agricultural production and raw materials were important to the British war effort. Some British children were sent to Canada for saftey early in the War, but this was discontinued when children were lost to U-boat attacks and the threat of NAZI invasion receeded. Canadian units were badly mauled at the poorly conceived Dieppe landings (August 1942). The Canadian Army, however, played an important role in the liberation of France. The Canadians landed at Juno Beach. Despite Canada's role in liberating France, French Canadians again were not enthusistic about the war effort and conscription became a major political issue which impeded the Canadian war effort. The Canadians were part of Montgomery's First Army which after France liberated the Low Countries (Belgium and the Netherlands) and the final push into NAZI Germany.
The Canadians joined in the Western effort to resist the totalitarian threat of the Soviet Union. Canada was a staunch American ally in the Cold War. As with otherThere were disagreements. One of the most important was over Cuba. As withn other NATO allies, Canada supported the United State in Korea, but not Vietnam. The early warning system built across the Canadian north was an important part of the American strategic defenses. The Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line was a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic region of Canada, with additional stations along the North Coast and Aleutian Islands of Alaska, as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland.
Canada in the post-War era has addressed the grevinces of the French minority. Canada came close to civil war here (1970). Primeminister Trudeau had to resort to the War Measures Act to put an end to the Front de la Liberation du Quebec (FLQ)--a terrorist group with multiple cells who were blowing up federal targets and English institutions including schools. They began kidnapping and murdering politicians and British Ambassadors. They were eventually supressed. The most violent cell group was permitted to flee Canada/Quebec to Cuba.
Interestingly they did not find Castro's Cuba the paradise tht they had imagined. And apparently Fidel was not to hppy withthem either. After several years they decided that the Canada they tried to tear apart was a lot more appealing than they had believed, They asked for permission to return to Canada/Quebec and eventually some did return, but we do not yet have the detils.
A reader tells us, 'In order to try and keep the peace the English in Quebec have paid a price for this peace ever since.' Canada today a respected independent bilingual, multicultural federation. The ROC and the Federal Government have bent over backwards to try and give Quebec everything it wants except separation and independence. The English in Quebec are ignored by both the provincial governments and the Federal authorities. A reader writes, "We are taken or granted that we will never vote for one of the Separatist parties so why bother to cater to us. The main Separatist party, the Parti Québécois (PQ), has always had one main goal--to create a totally all French country in North America. It is almost the same as if the Spanish speakers in California, New Mexico or Florida were to be the heavy majority in one of those states and try to invoke a law that all schools use Spanish." The PQ continues to press for independence. There is considerable support for the PQ and independence in Quebec. It is unclear how this will end, Quebec independence is a real future possibility.
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