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The Keery Family of Kensington Prairie.

The Keery family origins began in Ireland. Archibald Keery married Peggy Kirkpatrick and had a son Archibald (Archie) Keery born in 1828 in Ireland. Archie married Mary McBride and she bore a son John C. Keery born 14, Aug. 1860 in County Antrim, Ireland.

Mary, John, Archie Keery Mary (McBride) Keery

On the left is Mary and Archie Keery with their son John and on the right Mary McBride.

John emigrated to Canada in 1882 and continued west and arrived in Surrey in 1890 taking up a homestead in Kensington Prairie.

This is the story of the John Keery family whose origins begin in Ireland.


Archibald Keery, born 15 April 1828, was the son of Archibald and Peggy Keery (nee Kirkpatrick). He married Mary McBride, born 25 September 1833, and they had 6 sons and 3 daughters. In the 1851 Census of Ireland, where they were listed under the name, Kery, they lived along with a daughter, Jane, a son Archibald, and three servants on a farm in the townland of Magheraboy, Rasharkin, County Antrim. According to the Griffiths Primary Valuation of Ireland conducted between 1848 and 1864, in which he was listed as Archibald Carey, the farm area was about 41 acres. Archie was killed on 3 May 1892, aged 64, when his horse bolted on being attacked by a swarm of bees on the road to Kilrea. His wife, Mary, died on 15 October 1919, aged 86. Both are buried in the graveyard at St Andrew's Church of Ireland, Rasharkin. A memorial was erected on his grave by his friends and acquaintances in token of his valuable services to the community
In those days children from a large family had to leave home to seek a better life elsewhere, and only one, Hugh, was to live into old age in Ireland. Even he and his wife, early in their married life, went to Glasgow to seek employment for a period but returned home to take over the farm after the death of his father and brother, Archibald, in the same year.


Margaret Calderwood

Margaret Calderwood

Margaret (Peggy) Jane (11 February 1859 – 19 July 1941)

Margaret (Peggy) Jane married Matthew Robert Calderwood, born on 5 October 1839. The marriage took place on 24 May 1882 in Garryduff Presbyterian Church near Ballymoney. However, according to the USA relatives the Calderwood family was in the distillery business and lived in Calderwood Castle near East Kilbride, near Glasgow. The Calderwood family was not happy with the situation so Margaret and Matthew left Scotland around 1885 to find a new home. He was what was called a remittance man (a man living abroad on money sent from home, especially in the days of the British Empire) and he was supported by the Calderwood family till he died. The first child, Annie, was born in Ireland, next child, Mary, was born in Durban South Africa. As they didn't want to settle there they went to British Columbia (where Margaret had a brother, John) but didn't want to settle there either so they traveled to Nova Scotia and settled in New Germany. Six more children were born there. They lived there till Matthew became ill and then they moved to Green Cove Springs, Florida, in early 1897. Shipping records show that on 6 January 1897 the family sailed on the Halifax from Halifax to Boston arriving in Boston on 7 January. It was in Green Cove Springs that Matthew died on 16 August 1897 and where Margaret remained for 9 years before moving to Pelham, New York with her family. Margaret, aged 69, returned to Ireland for a visit in the summer of 1928, sailing from New York on the California, disembarking at Moville on 11 June and returning on 1 September on the Caledonia for New York. She is buried in Valleau Cemetery, Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Maria (1 February 1865 – 17 March 1945)

Maria married Henry Dysart, a local man, born on 14 January 1863 in the nearby townland of Crushybracken, Rasharkin. They were married on 2 April 1885 in Rasharkin Presbyterian Church. Because Henry was affected by chest trouble they migrated to USA sailing on the State of Indiana from Glasgow/Larne arriving in New York on 21 May 1885. Henry was aged 22 and Maria 21 at that time. They settled in Albany, NY. Some of their children were born in USA but in 1891 they returned to Ireland to live on a farm, which Henry had inherited, in the townland of Ballymacpeake near Bellaghy, County Londonderry. It was there that the remainder of the family were born. In all they had 6 sons and 5 daughters. He was advised by friends that if he wanted a better life he should come to New Zealand. His doctor told him that he would live a few more years in that climate. The family moved back to Crushybracken for a month before they left for New Zealand. On 18 April 1906 they sailed from London on the Turakina for New Zealand disembarking at Wellington on 4 June 1906. They settled in Hastings in the Hawkes Bay region on the east coast of the North Island. In 1913 Henry secured, as a result of a ballot for sections, a block of 418 acres of land in the Sherenden district of Hawkes Bay and moved there. Henry died of pneumonia on 5 November 1921 aged 58. Many of Maria's descendants still live in the Hawkes Bay district. Maria, who died on 17 March 1945, is buried along with her husband in Hastings cemetery.

Robert (14 October 1862 – 8 July 1891)

Robert Keery was married to Elizabeth Oliver on 1 April 1891 at Balteagh Presbyterian Church in the Limavady registration district. Robert was drowned in a river in Duncan on Vancouver Island while wading out to a boat. He was 28 years of age and had only been married for about 3 months. He is buried in St Peter's Quamichan graveyard, Duncan, British Columbia. He had probably gone out to Canada to be with his brothers who were already settled in BC. His gravestone inscription reads: "In memory of Robert Keery, drowned July 8 1891, aged 28 years, a native of Co Antrim, Ireland."

A newspaper reported that his wife went to stay with her husband's brother, John Keery at Port Kells on the mainland. According to the 1901 and 1911 Censuses of Ireland Elizabeth returned to Ireland to live with her father and brother in the townland of Lislane near Limavady. She died on 29 August 1947, aged 87 years, and is buried in Balteagh Presbyterian Church's graveyard in the family grave.

Archibald (9 March 1867–1892)

Died in Ireland at the age of 25 from appendicitis.

James (Jimmy, nicknamed 'Klondike') (24 May 1869 – 19 November 1948)

James Keery

James "Klondike" Keery

James married Sarah Isabella Johnston on 21 October 1902 in Killymurris Presbyterian Church. James was a world traveler even in the late 1800's and early 1900's. He was involved in the Klondike Gold Rush passing through Juneau on 24 May 1895 and heading to the Yukon via the Chilkoot Trail spending some time as a saloon owner in Forty Mile, a mining settlement 50 miles downriver from Dawson. He did not prospect for gold himself but ran saloons and billiard halls. He also made money by grubstaking the miners. Records show that he operated the Pioneer Saloon and Billiard Hall believed to be in Dawson City, circa 1897. Another record shows that he owned the Palace Saloon and Billiard Hall, Dawson in 1898. At some time during the Klondike Gold Rush he visited Ireland where he entertained the brethren of the local Masonic Lodge and some of his friends in Kilrea Town Hall before his return voyage. Notebooks, including his debtors' book and photographs recording his days in the Klondike have been placed in the MacBride Museum of Yukon History in Whitehorse in 1995 by his grandson, Jim Keery, from Auckland, New Zealand. On his return to Ireland in 1901/02 he bought a farm near Rasharkin, Co Antrim, where he was born, and a hotel and bar in Ballymena. His final journey was to New Zealand, sailing on the Ionic from London on 29 April 1909 with his wife and sons, James and Archibald, arriving in Wellington on 15 June where over the years he was to lose most of his fortune mainly through gambling. His descendants live in the Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch areas. He was cremated in Karori cemetery, Wellington. On his death certificate he is described as having been a retired lorry driver.

Keerys Hotel

Keery's hotel

Hugh (28 March 1871 – 10 April 1960)

Hugh married Margaret (Maggie) Wilson on 21 March 1895 in 2nd Portglenone Presbyterian Church. Their family consisted of 2 sons and 5 daughters. Hugh, like most of his siblings, had to seek his fortune elsewhere and that was in Scotland but he had to return home from Glasgow with his wife and son, James, to work the home farm for his mother after the sudden death of her husband and her son, Archibald, in the same year, 1892. The farm remained in the family under Hugh's younger son, Archibald, until 1978 when he retired and moved with his wife, sister and daughter to Ballymoney. Most of Hugh's descendants live within 20 miles of the homestead at Magheraboy. He is buried along with his wife, Maggie, in St Andrew's Church of Ireland churchyard, Rasharkin.

Elizabeth (31 August 1873 – 7 September 1875)

Died, aged 2.

Joseph William (5 August 1877 – 14 September 1897)

Joseph, aged 20, sailed on the Circassa from Londonderry to New York on 5 March 1897. He was accidentally shot at the age of 20 by his brother, John, in a hunting accident in BC. Some think that he had gone out to Canada to visit his brother(s). He is buried in Christ Church graveyard, Surrey Centre, BC.

John (14 August 1860 – 26 February 1940)

John, aged 21, sailed on the Polynesian on 21 April 1882 and disembarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia in May 1882. John settled in the Kensington district of Surrey in southern BC where he married Emily Collishaw and had a family of 2 sons, Leslie Clare (Bud) and Robert Wilfred (Bob), and 1 daughter, Rita. On the 1898 BC Voters List he was recorded as being a logger on Kensington Prairie. A photograph taken on July 31, 1911 records him as being foreman of Section 4 during the construction of the Pacific Highway. Most of his descendants still live in southern BC. At one time his mother went out to visit him, some say with the intention of staying, but came home again with the report that it was a very remote area and that at night bears came out of the forest and this frightened her. John and Emily, along with Leslie (Bud) and Rita (Enid), visited Ireland in late 1898 sailing from New York to Liverpool on the Etruria. Robert Wilfred (Bob) could not accompany them because he had an infection. John and his family played an important role in the Surrey municipality by developing farms and by taking part in its government as a councilor. He was described as a kind and generous man with warm compassion for his neighbour despite a quick temper. His contribution to the community was marked by the establishment of the 17 acre Keery Park in South Surrey which remains to this day as a forested block with a small grassed clearing on the roadside. He is buried along with his wife in Christ Church graveyard, Surrey Centre, BC.

The Keery Family History was compiled by Hugh Keery, grandson of Hugh Keery Updated: 16 January 2017

Keery Park

Hugh Keery, who researched and wrote the history just described, is seen clearing shrubbery away from the Keery Park sign. Hugh was visiting his Keery family in Surrey at the time.

(See Keery Park)

John and Emily Keery

John emigrated to the Canada in 1882. He worked in various locations but continued west and arrived in Surrey in 1890, taking up a homestead in Kensington Prairie. He began work with the Royal City Lumber Company. He continued to improve his homestead while working seasonally in the forest industry. His first job in Surrey was working for the Royal City Lumber Company, a pioneer logging lumber company that was logging in the Kensington Prairie area of the southern uplands and the Hazelmere valley. He first worked as a flood–gate man on the logging ditch, then as a boom–man on the Nicomekl River, and later at the Port Kells log–dump and booming grounds.(See Logging in South Surrey)

In later years John worked in the construction industry building roads in the District and the Fraser Valley.

Steam tractor construction of Pacific Highway Stump on Pacific Highway

During the construction of Pacific Highway steam tractors were used to remove giant stumps. John Keery was foreman of the construction job and is alone to the left of the picture.

In 1891, John married Emily Collishaw, the oldest daughter of William and Elizabeth Collishaw. The Collishaw's had settled along the Mud Bay/Kensington Prairie Road in Kensington Prairie in 1885. Emily was 16 and John 31.

John and Emily John and Emily

On the left, John and Emily on their wedding day. On the right John and Emily as mature adults.

The Keery's took up farming on land that was part of the Collishaw farm. John had built Emily a home on acreage bordering her father's farm near Mud Bay Road and on Coast Meridian (40th Ave., and 168th Street). Like most residents of Kensington Prairie, John and Emily had a farm and raised pigs and horses. Pork was sold into the logging camps on the Southern uplands and to residents and stores in Cloverdale and Blaine. In season, produce was taken into New Westminster for the weekly market which operated every Friday. Horses were raised and sold into the forest industry and to the growing demand in urban centres.

John became active in Municipal affairs serving one year, 1906, on the local school board and twenty on the Municipal Council. In 1894, the year of the big flood on the Fraser when the Municipality of Surrey was very concerned with the building of dykes and dams, John Keery became a Councilor for Ward 4. He served for over 20 years between 1894 and 1928 and was responsible for many initiatives that helped bring Surrey into a growing and prosperous community.

John was a kind and generous man with warm compassion for his neighbour. One story handed down when he was a Councilor tells of days when money was hard to come by. A neighbour had lost a horse when it fell in the deep ruts that marked the newly formed roads. He appealed to the Municipal Council help but no funds were available at the time to assist the resident. John chose to donate his monthly salary as a Councilor and persuaded his fellow members to do likewise in order to replace the farmer's loss.

John and Emily had three children; Leslie Clare, Robert and Rita (Mrs. Ace Gray).

Emily and children Keery brothers

On the left: Emily, Leslie(Bud), Robert, and Beth

On the right: The Keery brothers Robert and Claire

John Keery passed away 26 Feb. 1940 and Emily on 22 Aug. 1950

Leslie Clare (Bud) Keery, son of John Keery and Emily Collishaw, was born on 18 Aug. 1892 in Surrey, BC. He married Edythe Evelyn G. Gray (daughter of Thomas Gray and Charlotte Gray) on 12 Jun 1920 in Ladner, BC. She was born about 1899 in Vancouver, BC. She died on 13 April 1971 in White Rock, BC. The couple had two children: Gwen and Cecil Clare.

Gwen and Ansil Clare

Gwen is on the left, Cecil Clare is in the centre, Marilyn Keery is on the right.

Leslie Clare began working on his father's farm, but soon turned to logging and milling. He joined his uncle Cecil (William Cecil Collishaw) in operating a mill located on Mud Bay Road, west of the Collishaw farm but east of the Nicomekl River. They milled second growth timber and provided for the local needs for building materials. Leslie Clare and Cecil were about the same age and worked well together. In time the operation declined due to limited timber and Leslie Clare moved on to Boston Bar and opened a successful milling operation there. Leslie Clare Keery died on 30 Oct. 1957 in Vancouver, BC, and is buried in the family plot in Surrey Centre.

Leslie Claire Keery Leslie Keery's children

Leslie Claire Keery and his children, Gwen and Cecil Clare.

Rita Enid Evelyn Keery (daughter of John Keery and Emily Collishaw) was born on 21 April 1896 in Kensington Prairie, BC. She married James Asabel (Ace) Gray (son of Thomas Cooke Gray and Charlotte Elizabeth Feek) on 16 Aug 1915 in Surrey Centre, BC. Ace was born on 21 April 1890 in British Columbia. He died on 11 July 1971. Rita died on 12 Jan 1961 in Hope, BC. She, along with Ace, is buried in the family plot at Surrey Centre.

Grey's restaurant Leslie Kerry and Jack Gray.

Grey's grocery store with Leslie Keery and Jack (Ace) Grey with his daughter.

Rita and Ace took up residence in Boston Bar, as had her brother Leslie Clare and they opened a restaurant. Later, they operated successful grocery store in the same community. James Asabel (Ace) Gray and Rita Enid Evelyn Keery had the following children: John Lloyd Gilbert Gray was born on 21 April 1917 in Cloverdale, BC. Gordon Robert Gray was born in April 1924 in New Westminster, BC. He married Doreen Isabelle Tomlinson on 2 Jan 1944 in Vancouver, BC. She was born on 22 Jan 1924 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She died on 25 Jan 1986 in Hope, BC. Robert died on 7 May 2004 in Hope, BC. They had two girls and a boy.

Visiting the Keery family in Boston Bar

The Gray and Keery families with the Kennedys in Boston Bar. From the left: Bob and Doreen Gray, Matt and Betty Kennedy, Rita and Ace Gray, Grace and Rob Keery.

Rita and Roberts families

Rita and Robert's families

Robert and Grace Keery

Robert Wilfred Keery was born in Kensington Prairie on the 12 of April 1894. He went to the local school in Kensington Prairie at Mud Bay Road and Coast Meridian. He grew up helping his father on the family farm and in turn became a farmer in the same district. On 16 July 1929 he married Grace Selena Lougheed.

Kensington Prairie School 1902

This is the 1902 class at Kensington Prairie School located on the NE corner of Coast Meridian and Mud Bay Roads. Robert is standing to the right in the second row.

Grace Selena Lougheed was born in 1898 in Rossland, BC. She was the daughter of Wesley Lougheed and Elizabeth Ann Mcdonnell.

Grace's hockey team

Grace Lougheed played Ladies Hockey in Rossland. She played on the 1915–16 team, one of the first women's hockey teams, and this picture is in the BC Hockey Hall of Fame. Grace is in the second row on the left.

Grace attended school up to the time of entering Vancouver Normal School in 1917 to become a teacher. Her first year teaching was a one–room school at Wanklin, 5 miles from Cranbrook. After that, so she could live near her parents, she taught in schools at Tadnac, Trail and Britannia Mines up until 1925. In the fall of that year she came to Surrey and taught a year in the little Woodward Hill School, then located on Woodward land east of King George highway on Hwy.10. She was interviewed by Surrey school trustee, George Boothroyd. It helped that she knew music and would be able to teach singing.

Woodward's Hill School Class of 1926

This is Grace Selina Lougheed and her class in Woodward Hill School in 1925–26.

It was during the first few months in Surrey that Grace Lougheed met Robert Keery. At a Burns' Night Social, in the community hall, formerly the original Kensington Prairie School, Grace was asked to sing "Coming through the Rye". The dancing started later and she met her future husband. After the second dance Robert asked to take Grace home. She consented after learning that he was also taking his grandmother home. Robert and Grace were married 16 July 1929 by Rev. Gilbert in, Christ Church, Surrey Centre.

For many years Robert operated a successful truck garden and like his father took an active interest in Municipal affairs. He also operated a trucking business until the 1950s. He served as a Councilor from 1945 through 1947 and again from 1953 through 1954.

War time Council meeting

Robert was part of Surrey Council after World War II.
Robert is seated in the front on the left side, The Reeve, seated in the centre, is Joe Brown

Grace was a teacher and when she first came to Surrey she taught at Woodward Hill, a one–room school on part of the old Woodward property. She was Miss Lougheed at that time. After her marriage she taught at Strawberry Hill, Elgin, and substituted at her daughter Marilyn's school at Kensington Prairie. Marilyn recalled: "The kids would tease me because they would say, What are you going to say 'Present, Mrs. Keery', or 'Present, Mom'? So I just said 'Present'.

Kensington Prairie School

Kensington Prairie School, grades 1 to 6, 1940.
Marilyn is standing on the left side in the second row. The teacher is Miss Flumerfelt.

Kensington Prairie School

Kensington Prairie School after its restoration.
Russ Hebert MP and Marilyn are standing by the sign in front of the school.

Young Grace Keery Mature Grace Keery

On the left a young Grace and on the right a more mature Grace.

Robert and Grace Keery had the following children:

Baby Boy Keery was born on 4 Feb 1931 in Vancouver, BC. He died on the same day.

Baby Girl Keery was born on 5 Jun 1933 in Vancouver, BC. She died the same day.

Marilyn Keery was born on 16 Nov 1935 in Vancouver. She grew up in Kensington Prairie, Surrey, attended school in Kensington Prairie and Lord Tweedsmuir High School in Cloverdale. She graduated in 1953.

Marilyn Keery Marilyn and William Marilyn Buchannon

From the left: Marilyn in 1949, Marilyn and her son William in 1970, Marilyn in 2017

Marilyn married William Stuart Buchannon from Dauphin, Manitoba. They had one son William Victor Buchannon and he lives in Cloverdale and is married with two children. He's a fireman in Richmond.

Katie and her class

Katie Laird and her Sunday School Class at Kensington Hall, the former school. Marilyn is second from the left.

LTS staff 1953

Lord Tweedsmuir School Staff 1953

The Keery farm

Map of Keery farms

Map of Keery farms

Kensington Prairie 2017

2017 Map of Kensington Prairie

John and Emily Keery's farm was originally part of William Collishaw's holdings. He gave John a portion of his property on Coast Meridian Road. John built a house and out buildings on the property and raised pigs and horses that he marketed. This was a small operation as John continued his employment with Royal City Lumber Company, and later in the construction industry.

John added to his farm by acquiring property west along Coast Meridian Road and north of Mud Bay Road to the Nicomekl River. In time John would divided this farm and give the northern small acreage portion to Margaret Laird as she was a widow in need of assistance. Her son Jock was Robert's foreman. Margaret had two boys and a girl and they grew vegetables and they had a cow. These supplied their needs and Margaret might have sold some to market. She and her daughter also worked on Robert’s farm all summer.

Robert and Grace Keery's farm was much more extensive. It occupied the area from Coast Meridian Road, to Mud Bay Road, and north to the Laird property. This was an extensive market gardening operation. Upon his father’s death Robert took over the managing of John's farm as part of his own. In addition, when Leslie Clare Keery moved to Boston Bar, Robert took over that mill property and farmed it as part of his own. John had built the home on that property. At the height of operations Robert had 75 acres under vegetable production.

Keery barn is spring flood Keery home in spring

Seasonal rains left the Keery home and out building surrounded by water.

Keery home on Mud Bay Road

This was the Keery home on Mud Bay road which was located near the former mill site.
Emily Keery and a neighbour child are seated in front. John Keery built the home.

John and Emily Grace and Robert

John and Emily and Grace and Robert

Robert had a foreman working for him by the name of John Keery Laird, but everyone called him Jock. In the summer when extra hands were required for harvesting, many of the young members of the Collishaw and Woodward families and their friends were employed on a summer season basis. Many of Marilyn's school friends also had summer jobs working for her father on the farm. The work required on the 75 acres in production was demanding in planting and harvesting seasons. Robert originally operated his equipment with two Clydesdale working horses. This only changed after the Second World War when tractors became more commonplace.

Robert, Marilyn and team John at messy farm work

Robert at work on the farm

John, Marilyn with his car and truck

Robert and Marilyn with his car and truck

Marketing the vegetables

Cultivation of the market crops was one aspect of farming but marketing was the vital part of a successful farm operation. Robert sold fresh farm vegetables to Harold Barge of Barge's grocery store in White Rock. The store was located on Marine Drive across the road from the GNR train station. He also sold to Overwaitea Foods located in Cloverdale. He sold to grocery stores in Cloverdale as well as traveling to the Vancouver market once a week. He sold to the Vancouver Marketing Board as well as canneries in Vancouver and New Westminster. The Keery's owned a summer residence on Habgood Street, behind the Park Theatre complex. The family lived here in the summer time and Robert would load his truck and sell potatoes to the fish and ship cafes along Marine Drive west into downtown White Rock.

Robert in spinach field

Some crops such as this one and a half acres of spinach were sold in total to canneries.
Robert Keery's farm was on Coast Meridian Road. Robert is standing with Shirley Metcalf, the daughter of Don Metcalf of Bestoval Cannery. The cannery purchased the entire crop.

Robert, Grace and Marilyn

Grace, Robert and Marilyn 1953

Grace and Robert on 50th Wedding Anniversary

Grace and Robert on their 20th Wedding Anniversary.

After Marilyn graduated in 1953 the family moved to White Rock. Grace preferred to live closer to urban amenities rather than the rural farm. The family purchased a home at Pacific Avenue and D Street (present Dolphin Street).

Home on D Street

The Keery home at Pacific Avenue and D Street.
Grace is seated in the center.

Robert continued to operate the farm and would drive to work every morning. Marilyn moved to Vancouver to take post–secondary training. Robert died on 16 Nov. 1958 in White Rock, BC and is buried at Surrey Centre.

Like many early settlers Robert's father John, invested in land in Surrey. One parcel was to become Keery Park.

Keery Park

Keery Park

John owned the south–east corner property at Coast Meridian and Brown Road (168th Street and 32nd Ave.). When the School District wanted to move the school site away from the land subject to seasonal flooding, they acquired the property from John. In order to reduce the cost the District arranged a land swap and John acquired the property that would become Keery Park. Robert inherited the property in East Kensington. The land is situated on a plateau at the corner of Siddons and Oliver roads, (188th Street and 28th Ave.) just east of East Kensington School.

There in the springtime can be found a tremendous display of colourful, flowering currant and...the biggest showing of Dogwood trees to be seen anywhere in the District. Early development survey revealed two large Ponderosa pines growing on the land which adds further botanical interest and natural beauty to the area. Keery Park has a most attractive potential. At present, however, just two acres have been cleared along Oliver Road where a rustic fence encloses the broad greensward developed there. This open space is otherwise encircled with the blossoming shrubs and trees which grow thick all over the land and from it trails branch away into the park's surrounding wildwoods. Where Nature Dwells..., Parks of White Rock and South Surrey.
Margaret Lang White Rock Printers and Publishers, 1967

This 17 acre park was purchased by Surrey in the late 1940s. It has great potential to enhance Surrey's Parks in the future. (See Keery Park)


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