Adjala-Tosorontio Bradford-W. Gwill. Clearview Essa Innisfil New Tecumseth
Oro-Medonte Ramara Severn Springwater Tay Tiny
The Penetanguishene
Road (Part 1) (Part 2)
The Schools The Early Press The Pioneer Churches Publications Simcoe Main


For an entire road map of
Simcoe County CLICK HERE

#1 Town of Collingwood (See Clearview)
#2 Clearview
#3 Town of Wasaga Beach (See Clearview)
#4 Camp Borden
#5 Adjala-Tosorontio
#6 New Tecumseth
#7 Bradford-West Gwillmbury
#8 Innisfil
#9 City of Barrie (See Vespra)
#10 Essa
#11 Springwater
#12 Oro-Medonte
#13 Town of Orillia (See Severn)
#14 Ramara
#15 Severn
#16 Tay
#17 Tiny
#18 Town of Penetanguishene (See Tiny)
#19 Town of Midland (See Tay)






CLICK HERE for a photo of the
Old Knox Presbyterian Church, Line 9 Oro Twp. Established in 1845


                      OLD TOWNSHIP NAME: Oro
Abandoned Con 6, Lot 11 African Episcopal Church Con 4, Lot 1
Bethesda Congregational Church Con 3, Lot 11 (near Edgar) Cameron Family Con 13, Lot 6 Craighurst Anglican Church Edgar United Church Con 3, Lot 10 Esson Presbyterian Church Con 11, Lot 10 Guthrie Presbyterian Church Con 5, Lot 20 Knox Presbyterian Con 9, Lot 10 Leigh's Corners Con 12, Lot 16 McLeod Con 12, Lot 12 McPherson Family Con 13, Lot 7 Little Brick aka Oro Station United Church/Oro Mission Con 6, Lot 25 Rugby United Church Con 12, Lot 11 St John's Anglican, Craighurst Con 1, Lot 40 St Mark's Anglican, East Oro St Thomas Anglican, Shanty Bay Con 2, Lot 28 West Oro Baptist

Craighurst Presbyterian Con 12, Lot 23 Hillsdale Presbyterian Hobart Vasey Union Moon (private) Con 9, Lot 15 Mount St Louis R.C. Con 4, Lot 10 St. George Anglican Fairvalley Con 11


"HILLS OF ORO AND OTHER PIONEER LANDMARKS: PART OF ORO'S HISTORY, by the Township of Oro History Committee, 1993. 149 p. illus. maps. A little book of reminiscences about hills and other places that were given names by the pioneers and some facts about the way things were. Illustrated with pen and ink sketches by Loreen Lucas and Joanna McEwen."

"THE STORY OF ORO, by The Township of Oro History Committee, 2nd ed. 1987. 344 p. illus. maps. A very comprehensive history of the township."

"KITH 'N KIN: REMINISCENCES, BIOGRAPHIES, GENEALOGIES, PHOTOGRAPHS, featuring Oro Township Pioneer Families, compiled and edited by Joanna McEwen, 1978. 409 p. illus. maps. A marvellous record of Oro families, many of them first settlers."

"MEN OF COLOUR: an historical account of the Black Settlement on Wilberforce Street and in Oro Township, 1819 - 1949, by Gary E. French, 1978. 182 p. illus. maps."

"KNOX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 1845 - 1986, by Oro Township History Committee and Knox Church Trustees, 1986. 50 p. illus. maps.

"OUTHOUSES AND APPLE PIE, by Loreen (Rice) Lucas, 1996. 171 p. illus. map. A life of reminiscences by the author, her hardships, joys, setting up new homes, her store-keeping venture in Oro. A delight to read."

NOTE: For the complete list of approx. 1800 names covering all of Simcoe County and an explanation on how this list was put together CLICK HERE.


    SETTLER           Con.   Lot

ALIBONE, George        8      9 (E1/2)
ANDERSON, Thomas G.   12     24
ARCHER, William        1     69 (W1/2)
BAILEY, John          12      6
BAILEY, Robert         6      1
BEARD, James          11      2
BARR, Walter          11      6 (E1/2)
BARR, George           6     11 (E1/2)
BELL, John             7      8
BELL, James            7      8
BORLAND, John         11     22
BOYD, William         10     16 (E1/2)
BOYNTON, John          3      9 (W1/2)
BRADLEY, William       1     56
BROOMLAW, John         1     70
BROTHERSTONE, Jane     9      6 (W1/2)
BRIMSMEAD, Richard    11      5 (E1/2)
BUNTON, Conway         5      5 (E1/2)
BYRNES, John           2     57
BURNFIELD, James       6     14
BUTCHER, Joseph       12      8
CALLAGHAN, Patrick     4      6 (W1/2)
CALLAGHAN, John        5      7
CARTHEW, John         10     17
CAVANAGH, Thomas      10      6 (NE1/4)
CHAMPAGNY, Peter      10     15
CONNOR, Michael        4      9
CONNOR, John           4      8
COOK, James           10      2 (SE1/4)
COOK, John            11      2
CRADDOCK, Joseph      12     23 (SW1/4)
CRAIG, Thomas Sr.      1     43
CRAIG, Thomas Jr.      1     44
CRAIG, John            1     43
COWAN, Samuel          6      6 (E1/2)
DAVENPORT, Benjamin    1     70
DOLLER, Joseph        10     19
DOUGLASS, William      8      7
DUDDY, Thomas          7      7
DUNAGHAN, Miles        1     75
EPLETT, John           9     12
EVANS, Joseph          6      8 (E1/2)
FITZGERALD, Charles    6      4
FLANAGHAN, Michael     3      8 (E1/2)
FOWLER, John           8      8 (E1/2)
FOX, James            11      8 (E1/2)
FOX, James            10     20
FRENCH, Samuel         4      7 (E1/2)
FRAWLEY, Cornelius     3     10 (E1/2)
FULLERTON, John        9      7 (E1/2)
GANTON, David          3      8 (W1/2)
GOSS, Joseph          11      7 (W1/2)
GRANT, John            5      1
GREENLAW, Robert       2     49
GREENLAW, James        2     50
GROUETTE, Wm.         13     22
HALLEN, George        13     11
HARVEY, John           5     13 (E1/2)
HINDS, John            3      1 (W1/2)
HOLT, Zechariah        4      1
HORSBURGH, Alexander   9      8 (SE1/4)
HUGHES, Patrick        1     60 (W1/2)
HUSSEY, John           3      6
INGRAM, Robert         1     49
INGRAM, James          1     50
INGRAM, George         3      5
INWOOD, John           8      8
JACQUES, Franklin      1     41
JAMIESON, John        13      1 (E1/2)
JAMIESON, Ann          5     10
JOHNSON, David         2     54
KEARNS, William       10      6 (SE1/4)
KELLY, Thomas          9     10 (E1/2)
KENT, William         10     12
KINGHORN, Andrew       5      6 (W1/2)
LAING, Alexander       1     42 (N1/2)
LAWLER, Cornelius     12      1 (W1/2)
LEONARD, James         1     69
LITTLE, Robert         6      1
LIVINGSTON, Dougald   11      6 (W1/2)
MILLER, Robert         6     12
MILLER, Alexander      6     13
MILLIKEN, Thomas       1     54 (S1/2)
MOON, Henry           10     16
MOON, Edmund           9     15
MOON, George           3     56
MORAN, John            2     41
MORDAN, Robert         5     12
MOREHEAD, Graham       1     53 (N1/2)
McARTHUR, Patrick      3      1
McCABE, Michael        9     20
McCARROLL, Robert      9      1
McCLURE, Samuel        7      3 (E1/2)
McCONDRA, Thomas       5      5 (W1/2)
McDONALD, John         6      8 (W1/2)
McHUGH, Daniel        13      1 (NW1/4)
McHUGH, Peter         13      1
McKAY, George          1     72 (N1/2)
McKINLEY, John        11      3 (E1/2)
McKINLEY, Duncan      11      3
McKINLEY, Donald       8      2
McLEAN, Dougall       10     10 (E1/2)
McLEOD, Malcolm        2     52
McMURRAY, Michael      4      9
McNAMARA, Lawrence     3     10
NICHOLL, Robert        1     65
NICHOLL, S.            9     22
O'DONNELL, Patrick     6      2 (E1/2)
ORTON, John            9      7 (W1/2)
PARKER, Thomas         4      7 (SW1/4)
PILGRIM, Henry         9     14
POWER, William         4      6 (E1/2)
QUAIL, Thomas          9      5 (E1/2)
REARDON, Jermiah       7      5 (E1/2)
REID, Archibald       --     --
RILEY, Thomas          9     19
ROBINS, Jethro         7      7 (E1/2)
ROSS, Richard, Colmer  7     15
ROSS, William          5      8
RUTHERFORD, Allan     11      9
RUTHERFORD, Justus     6      9
SEAL, John             6      6 (W1/2)
SHANAHAN, John         3      9 (NE1/4)
SHANAHAN, Thomas       3      7 (E1/2)
SHIRE, Charles        10      1 (W1/2)
SLEIGH, Edwin          8     15
SMYTH, Traverse        1     53 (S1/2)
STEELE, Elmes         12      9
STEVENS, John          9      8 (W1/2)
STOKLEY, James         1     71
SWITZER, William      10      1 (NE1/4)
TERRY, Jane            7      3 (W1/2)
THOMAS, John           8     16
THOMPSON, William      7     10
THOMPSON, Dougald     11      3 (NW1/4)
THORNTON, Peter       11      1 (E1/2)
THORNTON, Thomas      11      1 (W1/2)
TEARNING, John         9     10 (W1/2)
TURNER, George         1     59
WALKER, George         7      1 (E1/2)
WATT, William          4     11 (E1/2)
WHELAN, John          12      7 (W1/2)
WILLIAMS, Joseph       7      5 (W1/2)
WILSON, Lieut. George 10     14
YATES, John            2     53


   SETTLER             Con.   Lot  

 ADAMS, John            8     27
 ADAMS, James           9     26 (E Pt)
 ALGEO, William B.     11     23
 ALLINGHAM, J.D.       11     24
 AMBLER, Thomas         1      6
 ANDERSON, George      11     18
 ASHFIELD, John         6      9
 BARBER, Luther         3      6 (E1/2)
 BASKERVILLE, William  13     14 (E1/2)
 BASS, Malen            3     12 (E1/2)
 BAILEY, Thomas         6     18
 BATTERS, Charles G.    7     17
 BELL, Gilbert          8      7
 BERGEN, Michael        1     19
 BLAIR, William         8      6
 BLACK, Hector          9     12
 BONE, David           13     10 (E1/2)
 BROWN, Samuel          1     20
 BROWN, George         12     11 (E1/2)
 BROUGH, Charles, Rev. 14     13
 BUCHANAN, Francis     13      7 (W1/2)
 BUSH, James            5     12 (W1/2)
 CALDWELL, George       2     12
 CALL, John             2     21
 CAMERON, Duncan       12      6
 CAMERON, Daniel       12     12 (W1/2)
 CAMERON, Malcolm      13      6 (W1/2)
 CAMPBELL, Arch         5     17
 CAMPBELL, John         7     17 (W1/2)
 CARTHEW, Arthur       13     22 (S Pt)
 CHAPEL, John           2     11
 CHEDWICK, Richard      3      7
 CLARK, John           10      2
 CLARK, Alex           10      1
 CLARK, Joseph         14      8
 CLIFFORD, Henry        2     30
 CAUGHLY, Daniel        2     14
 COLEMAN, James        14      7 (S1/2)
 COTTON, Noah          10     14 (E1/2)
 CRAWFORD, Henry       10     14 (W1/2)
 CREA, William          3     14
 CROOKS, Richard        9     23
 CROOKS, Richard       12     20
 CROSS, William         1     33
 CURRIE, Edward         9      5
 CURRIE, John          10      6
 CUPPAGE, William      13      2
 DAVIS, Edward F.      12     22
 DARKMAN, George        2     15
 DELAY, John            2      E
 DRURY, Thomas          1     11
 DRURY, Richard         1     12
 DUNSMORE, William      6     16 (E1/2)
 EDDY, George           2     24
 EDWARDS, Joseph        2     31
 ELSMERE, Joseph        4      1 (W1/2)
 EMMS, James            1     31
 FELL, Isaac           14     11
 FELTERS, Mary         14     10 (N1/2)
 FERGUSON, George       6     14 (E1/2)
 FERGUSON, Thomas      14      8
 FIRTH, George          7     15
 FITZGIBBON, Thos      13      1
 FLAHERTY, John         2     10
 FORSTER, Richard       2     24
 FRAZER, William       14     14
 FRAZER, John           4     20
 GALBRAITH, John        9     10 (S1/2)
 GALBRAITH, Angus      10      8
 GALBRAITH, Donald     10     13
 GARDINER, William      2     23
 GARDINER, John         2     25
 GILCHRIST, Duncan      8      6
 GILLESPIE, Arch        9     11
 GOSLING, John          2     24
 GOUGH, John            1      E
 GRAHAM, William        3     11 (WPt)
 GRANT, Donald          7     12 (E1/2)
 GRAY, William          3     14
 GRUETTE, Peter        12     20
 HALL, H.              10     16 (E1/2)
 HAMMOND, John         12      1 (E1/2)
 HART, Isaac            1     32
 HARTWELL, William      2     11
 HARDY, John           13      6 (E1/2)
 HARKLEY, John          4      1 (Pt)
 HARRISON, Wm.         10     12 (W1/2)
 HATCH, William         7     14 (W1/2)
 HAWKINS, Charles       3      5 (E1/2)
 HEPBURN, Caesar        4     12 (W1/2)
 HICKLING, George       1     15
 HICKLING, Wm.          2     20
 HICKLING, Ebenezer     2     19
 HOLDSWORTH, Thomas    10     16 (W1/2)
 HODGES, Richard       12     24
 HORN, Peter           12     15
 HUGHES, George         1      6
 HULLICHAN, Patrick    13     15
 HUNT, Wm.              1     40
 JACKSON, Samuel        5     12
 JACKSON, John          2      3
 JARRETT, Charles      11      1
 JENNINGS, Henry        6     11 (E1/2)
 JERMEY, Samuel        10     12
 JERVIS, John           2      F
 JOHNSON, Matthew      14      7 (N1/2)
 JOHNSON, John T.       3     12
 JOHNSON, Benjamin      2     27
 JONES, John            5     13 (E1/2)
 KEATING, Horace       12     23
 KERRIDGE, Charles      1     23
 KYLE, Wm.             12      1 (W1/2)
 LALLY, Edmund          5     28
 LAUDER, Walter         5      9
 LANGMAN, Nicholas     14      6 (W1/2)
 LANGMAN, Joseph       14      6 (E1/2)
 LAWRENCE, John         1      7
 LITSTER, Henry        12      9 (E1/2)
 LEIGH, John           13     16
 LEITCH, Angus          8      2 (NE1/4)
 LEONARD, Wm.           2     28
 LIVINGSTON, Neil       9      7
 LOFTUS, James          3      6 (W1/2)
 LOCKE, Joseph         13     13 (E1/2)
 LUCK, Edward           1     16
 MARSHALL, John        14     12 (W1/2)
 MILLAN, Daniel         6     14 (W1/2)
 MITCHELL, William     12     12 (S1/2)
 MOFFATT, James        14      9 (E1/2)
 MONK, Charles          6     27
 MONRO, Jeremiah        5     10
 MORRIS, John M.        4     11 (E)
 MORRIS, Noah           4     11 (W1/2)
 MORRISON, Thomas      14     10
 MONTGOMERY, Henry      2     29
 McCALLUM, Peter       10      6 (NE1/4)
 McARTHUR, Duncan       8      7
 McARTHUR, Duncan       9      5
 McCUAIG, Duncan        5     16
 McCULLOCH, Robert      6     16 (W1/2)
 McDONALD, Michael     10     15
 McDUFFIE, Peter        9      1
 McDUFFIE, John        10      2 (W1/2)
 McDOUGALL, Arch        6     14
 McEACHERN, Duncan      8     12
 McEACHERN, John        8     11
 McFAYDON, John         9     10
 McKAY, Angus           9     12
 McKENZIE, John         8     16
 McKERROLL, James      10      1 (W1/2)
 McLEAN, George         1     39 (N1/2)
 McLEAN, John          10      4 (E1/2)
 McLEOD, Donald        12     12 (N1/2)
 McLEOD, John          13      8
 McMILLAN, Duncan       9     10
 McMILLAN, John        11      8
 McNAB, Alex           10      1 (E1/2)
 McNIVEN, John          8      3
 McPHERSON, John       13      7 (E1/2)
 McVITY, Wm. B.        11     25
 McVITTOE, Charles     10     25
 NAISH, James          13     13
 NORMAN, George        12     16
 O'BRIEN, Edward G.     2      2
 OADES, Francis         1     27
 OLIVER, Robert         1      1 (E Pt)
 OLIVER, George         1     18
 ORMSBY, James         12     14 (E1/2)
 OVERS, George          2     40
 PAILK, William         9     13 (E1/2)
 PARKER, Simon          6      6 (W1/2)
 PARTRIDGE, Charles     1     17
 PAXMAN, John          11      8
 PEARCE, Joseph         7     15
 PERKINS, Wm.           8     16
 PRENTIS, James         8      1 (NW1/4)
 PULFORD, George        8     14
 PUTNEY, Robert         6      8
 RAWL, John            13     17
 REID, Duncan           9      2 (E1/2)
 REID, John             3     15 (E1/2)
 REID, Hugh             9      2
 REID, Wm.             14     10
 RICHARDSON, Samuel     1      5
 RICHARDSON, Wm.        1     36 (W1/2)
 RICHARDSON, Jesse      5     10 (E1/2)
 ROBERTSON, George     13     10 (W1/2)
 ROSS, Malcolm          8     17
 RUTHERFORD, Wm.       12      8 (E1/2)
 RYALL, Edward         12     19 (W1/2)
 SCOTT, John           11     10 (SE1/4)
 ST. DENNY, Henry       2     26
 SHAW, Henry           10     12 (S1/2)
 SIMPSON, Wm.          11     15
 SINCLAIR, John         3     16 (E1/2)
 SMITH, Matthew         4      7 (E1/2)
 SMITH, John            6     11
 SMITH, Duncan          9      6
 SMITH, John            9     13 (W1/2)
 SMITH, Peter          11     20
 SUMMER, Edward         2      D
 SWAN, Robert          11     15 (W1/2)
 TABOR, James          13     14 (W1/2)
 THOMAS, Samuel         4      8
 THOMAS, Samuel         5     13
 THOMPSON, John        11      6 (W1/2)
 TUDHOPE, Walter        8      1 (NE1/4)
 TUDHOPE, William      11      7 (NE1/4)
 TUDHOPE, George       11      6 (E1/2)
 TURNER, Benjamin       4     12 (E1/2)
 TURNER, Edward         8      2 (Pt)
 USHER, Frederick       1      8
 WALKER, Edward         3      8 (W1/2)
 WALKER, John           4      9
 WALKER, Joseph         7      3 (E1/2)
 WATSON, James          1     28
 WHITE, James           1     26
 WHITLEY, John          3     28
 WHITING, George       10     11 (E1/2)
 WILSON, John          10     15
 YOUNG, John M.        14     12 (W1/2)


Even before the survey of Oro in 1820, it was the intention of the Government to devote part of it to the philanthropic uses of a coloured colony. A few coloured settlers were located, but for some reason or other the initial enthusiasm of the project died out, and nothing further on the part of the Government was done until about 1830. In connection with this proposal they appointed Lieut.-Col. Edward George O'Brien, who had settled in Oro and founded the community of Shanty Bay, to act as Government Agent for the location of the negro immigrants.

He had, at the age of fourteen, entered the naval service as midshipman on board H.M. frigate Doris, but the peace with America in 1815 blighted his hopes of advancement in the navy. A lengthy extract from his "jottings," made while in the service, appears in Thompson's "Reminiscences," and describes his first experience of life at sea. Leaving the navy, he entered the army for a time and served in the West Indies, where his health failed him, but soon after he again went to sea and made numerous voyages to the East. Illness forced him to leave the service and come to Canada.

In his pretty log cottage at Shanty Bay he dwelt during the first years after his settlement, and his relations with the settlers of the neighbourhood were of the most friendly character. Mr. Thompson in his "Reminiscences" has preserved a glimpse of his residence as it appeared in 1833, and has also recorded various incidents in his career.

In those early years he was a commissioner of the Court of Requests at Barrie, and occupied the position of chairman of the Quarter Sessions for the Simcoe District. He was one of the first magistrates in this locality.

When the uprising of 1837 took place, he called together a company of stalwart settlers, and marched for Toronto; but before arriving there he received instructions from Sir F.B. Head, the Lieut.-Governor, to proceed to Bond Head and remain there to take charge of the place, for there had been some disaffection in the district. After Simcoe had been erected into a county, Mr. O'Brien and his family removed to Toronto, where they resided for many years. He began business in the city as a land agent, and was subsequently Manager of the Provincial Insurance Company, unti 1857. In 1848 he became partial proprietor of the Toronto Patriot newspaper, but on May 25th of the following year occured the great fire which destroyed the Patriot printing office. Shortly afterward Mr. O'Brien sold his share in that newspaper to Mr. Ogle R. Gowan.

Lieut.-Col. E.G. O'Brien's life, as well as that of his wife, have been warmly eulogized by their comtemporary generation. Their charitableness caused them to be respected by people of all shades of opinion; and it is recorded that to Mrs. O'Brien, Toronto is indebted for its first ragged school. Several members of their family became distinguished in various ways. Lieut.-Col. Wm. E. O'Brien was commanding officer of the 35th Battalion, Simcoe Foresters, resigning October, 1897, and was member of the Dominion House of Commons for Muskoka; Lucius R. O'Brien was generally acknowledged to be the foremost Canadian artist in his day; while Henry O'Brien, K.C., of Toronto, is a well-known member of the legal profession. In the burial ground of the Shanty Bay church, which they mainly assisted to establish, Col. O'Brien and his wife are buried, and over them an Irish cross bears the following words:

"In loving remembrance of Edward George O'Brien, who died September 8, 1875, age 76; and of Mary Sophia, his wife, who died October 14, 1876, age 78. This stone is raised by their children. He having served his country by sea and land, became A.D. 1830 the founder of the settlement and mission of Shanty Bay. She was a true wife and zealous in all good works. Faithful servants, they rest in hope."


Shanty Bay with its old associations was the centre of a movement which has much interest from an historic point of view. The movement referred to consisted in the bestowal of land along the lake shore to retired British half-pay officers by the Government of Upper Canada. This practice had been followed by the Government for some time previously, but when Sir John Colborne became Governor in 1828, for some reason or another he formed a preference for the Lake Simcoe section, and advised almost all the half-pay officers who applied to him for grants to settle on the north shore of Lake Simcoe. There was, accordingly, about the year 1830, a demand for sites along the Oro shore, where a delightful view of the scenery of the lake could be had. But the soil being poor and stony many of those who located found to their sorrow that they could not live upon scenery alone, and the subsequent stampede was almost as hasty as the rush to get located.

The folowing is a list of those officers of the army and navy who obtained land grants, beginning at Kempenfeldt and proceeding eastward to Hawkestone: Captain Ross, Capt. Oliver, Col. O'Brien, Capt. E.A. Walker, Capt. Monck, Major Adam, Major Laurie, Capt. Charles McVittie, Col. Wm. B. McVity, Col. Davis, Johnson Allingham, and Col. Carthew.

Each oficer received a grant from Sir John Colborne, the Lieut.-Governor, the land being distributed amongst them in proportion to their rank and services. It was usual at that time to allot the land to officers according to a statutory schedule taking account of the length of time in the service and the quantity of land to which each class was entitled; and the Oro allotments were made in this way. (See chapter on land Grants Vol. 1).

Reference has been made in former chapters to some of those whose names are mentioned in the preceeding list. Capt. Robert Oliver has been mentioned in connection with Kempenfeldt. Prior to locating in Kempenfeldt Capt. Oliver resided on the site now known as "Woodlands," in a large, substantial log edifice owned by Eli Beman of Holland Landing, the occupants being (besides himself), his wife, 3 sons, 2 servants, with Meyrick Lally, and John McWatt (who had arrived in 1832 on the newly constructed steamer).

Major James Adams received his land grant near Oro station in 1832, and became one of the earliest magistrates in Oro. He was the Home District Councillor for the township in 1842, and in the following year was the first Treasurer of the District of Simcoe, but died a few months after his appointment. Descendants of his have lived in the same neighbourhood since that time.

Capt. E.A. Walker moved from his first "location" near Shanty to the county town and represented Vespra Township (with which Barrie was then included for municipal purposes) as District Councillor throughout the entire period of the Simcoe District Council (1843-9).

Col. Wm. B. McVity afterward became the first Clerk of the Peace when the County of Simcoe was organized. He died April 6, 1877.

Capt. Monck was a cousin of Lord Monck, the first Governor-General of the Dominion of Canada.

Capt. Malcolm Ross of the King's Regiment received 1,400 acres in 1832 in concessions 7, 8 and 9, near the shore.

Several of the half-pay officers who have been mentioned were located at or near Hawkestone. Amongst those who occupied a conspicuous position in the locality was Lieut.-Col. Arthur Carthew, late of H.M. 64th Regt., an officer of Cornish origin. But he did not dwell permanently at Hawkestone. Some time after 1836 he built a commodious house on a part of the Deer Park property on Yonge Street, the interior fittings of which, according to Dr. Scadding in "Toronto of Old" were of solid black walnut, had been bought from the Jarvis' family residence by him, and transferred without much alteration to Deer Park. Col. Carthew is also said to have made extensive improvements on property near Newmarket. He died on October 4, 1878, at the advanced age of 82 years.

These officers, in settling on the lake shore, encountered the usual hardships of the backwoods. Rev. Isaac Fidler met with one of these officers at Newmarket in 1832, and refers to him in his "Observations in the United States and Canada." As already mentioned, Sir John Colborne did all in his power to induce well-to-do immigrants to settle north of Lake Simcoe; but, with few exceptions, nothing was gained by the experiment but a sorrowful experience.

The settlement of the half-pay officers, so unique in its conception, was evidently an attempt to follow the classic policy of the Romans, who settled the veteran or retired soldiers on the outlying colonial frontiers to establish there "communities of loyal, able and valiant citizens." The plan looked all right on paper, but was unpractical for modern times.

The grantees of these lands, although receiving estates which were larger than what one would call "small holdings," and which were not in accordance with more recent land policies and the prevalent views of to-day as to what the size of land grants should be, did not impede settlement, as the land along the shore generally was somewhat stony in places and the soil not always the best. (It was not such land as practical people would take up first.) On the contrary, the officers had usually some wealth, and in making their disbursements for clearing and for what they needed, they circulated money and helped to make times good. In nearly every case, they lost money by their settlement while the community gained it. After selling their land for what they could manage to get for it, they generally moved to the towns where they passed the remainder of their days. Thompson's summary from his "Reminiscences," will form a fitting conclusion to our own remarks on these officers:-

"Where are the results of the policy which sent them there? What did they gain- what have their familes and descendants gained- by the ruinous outlay to which they were subjected? With one or two exceptions, absolutely nothing but wasted means and saddest memories."

The grand highway of early years up Yonge Street, from Little York to the upper lakes, suffered a division into several branches when it reached Lake Simcoe. The traveller who embarked at Holland Landing could make for "The Narrows," or "Shingle Bay," or Hodge's Landing (Hawkestone) or Kempenfeldt, or "The Head of the Bay," from all of which places were trails leading across to Georgian Bay; and according to the traveller's destination, so was his course through Lake Simcoe. At an early date, Hodge's Landing, now known as Hawkestone, took an important position amongst these landing places; and many people landed there on their way into the northern part of Oro and into Medonte. So considerable was the influx at that point, about 1832, that Wellesley Richie, the Government Agent, remained with gangs of men on the Coldwater Road, at Bass Lake, to place new settlers on their lands, both those who came via Hodges' Landing and those who landed at "The Narrows."

A colonization road into upper Oro was cut through from Hodges' Landing at an early date, and joined with the earlier route from Kempenfeldt to Penetanguishene, at Dalston of the present. The Hodges' Landing road soon became a feeder of the Penetanguishene Road, and owing to hills and the big swamp on the lower portion of the latter, it probably shared for a time as much as, if not more traffic than, the Kempenfeldt part of the same route. But in 1847, through the instrumentality of the Hon. W.B. Robinson, Commissioner of Public Works, and member of the Legislative Assembly for Simcoe, the Kempenfeldt-Penetanguishene Road was thoroughly cleared out to the width of sisty-six feet, and made passable for its entire length of over thirty miles. This step removed any further necessity for using the Hodges' Landing road, But, as late as 1851, we find the road distinctly marked on the county map in Smith's "Canada: Past, Present and Future," which, however, might have been copied from some old map, as one map-maker copies from another.

Hodges' Landing received its name from Richard Hodges, a native of England, who settled there in 1830, on lot 24 beside Lake Simcoe, and his son, William, born here in 1834, may also be classed among the pioneers. Capt. Davis settled on the east side of the Hawkestone Creek about the same time as Richard Hodges on the west side.

Wellesley Richie, the Government Land Agent, built shanties for the emigrants newly arriving to go into the northerly parts of the township, on the west side of the stream. There was a trail form this Landing to the Rugby line, toward the northeast, by which the settlers reached their new lands in that quarter.

S.M. Sandford, who had the first store in the county town, did not succeed in business there, and, with Capt. Bell, was one of the first to make a start in business at the Village of Hawkestone. They built a store on the east side of the creek at a short distance from the lake shore. The present wharf at the place was built by the Dominion Government in the year 1900.

Another of the early settlers in the backwoods near Hawkestone was George Anderson, a native of the County of Tipperary, Ireland, who came to Canada in 1832, and after living in Toronto four or five years came to Oro and took up lot 18, con. 11. He died September, 1890.

Still another pioneer was Peter Smith, who came from Islay, Scotland, in 1834 and settled on lot 20, con. 12. He was a zealous churchman, having been an elder of the Presbyterian church during twenty-six years.


As early as 1819, the project of settling negroes north of Lake Simcoe was under consideration by the Government, as it appears from the Dominion Archives Report for 1897, (State Papers, Upper Canada, p. 100), and we find the Davenports were located in Flos very soon after this early date. Accordingly we may infer that the African name of Oro was intended to signify the uses of the township, according to the Government. The actual settlement, however, began about 1830, with commissioning Lieot.-Col. E.G. O'Brien as the Governemnt Agent for locating the negroes. These were placed mostly along the second line of the township, which thus came to be called Wilberforce Street, in commemoration of the British philanthropist. Particulars of these colored pioneers are scanty enough at the present day, yet a list of their names, so far as the writer has been able to glean them, may be of some interest:

Luther Barber lot 6, con. 3 (E. Half)
James Bush lot 12, con. 5 (W. half)
John Call lpt 21, con. 2 (1831 Patent)
Daniel Caughly lot 14, con. 2
George Darkman lot 15, con. 2
John DeLay lot E, con. 2
George Eddy lot 24, con. 2
William Hartwell, (Daniel ?) lot 11, con. 2
Caesar Hepburn, (Hebron ?) lot 12, con. 4
Samuel Jackson lot 12, con. 5
John Jackson lot 3, con. 2, (patent lot 4, 1828)
Benjamin Johnston lot 27, con. 2
William Leonard lot 28, con. 2
Jeremiah Monro lot 10, con. 5
John Neilson Morris lot 11, con. 4, (E. half)
Noah Morris lot 11, con. 4, (W. half)
Henry Montgomery lot 29, con. 2, (a carpenter)
Henry St. Denny (St. Dennis ?) lot 26, con. 2
John Smith lot 11, con. 6
Edward Summer lot D, con. 2

Although more than a score of these "darkey" families arrived and were "located", scarcely a quarter of that number of familes exist in the township at the present day, the climate having proved to be to rigorous for them. In course of time many moved to more genial climes. Samuel Thompson in his "Reminiscences," speaking of the period about 1833 says:- "The inhabitants of the colored settlement were constantly at loggerheads with each other or with their white neighbours."


At the Middle Crossroad, John C. Steele, the eldest son of Capt. Steele, of Medonte, settled at an early date on lot 16, con. 6. He was Reeve of Oro for a period of eighteen years (1859 to 1876, both years inclusive) continuously, and was Warden in 1875. Some Reminiscences of the early days of this county, written by him, appeared in the Orillia Packet in 1893-4, and were unusually interesting. The post office maintained here in former years bore the name of Steele in honor on this well-known family.

Some events and characters of the early days of the settlement along this Crossroad, have found places in the writings of Miss Miller (Marion Keith).

William Hatch, a native of England, settled on lot 14, con. 7, a mile from Steele post office of later times, in 1832, which lot was afterward owned by Joseph Harrison. Mr. Hatch brough a bag of sovereigns from England with him when he came, and found it useful in helping him through the pioneer days. His sons, Henry and Richard Hatch, carpenters, lived first near Guthrie, and Henry afterward had a woodturning business in the county town. The first orchard in Oro grew from apple seeds which Mr. Hatch, sr., brought from England and planted on the farm just mentioned.

George Firth, a native of Yorkshire, England, also settled on lot 15, con. 7, in or about the year 1832. He was the inventor of a mouldborad for ploughs, which had a name in its day. His son, John Firth, lived for many years of the Penetanguishene Road, half way between Wyebridge and Penetanguishene, on lot 105, which came to be known as Firth's Corner.


Near the Middle Crossroad and in the vicinity of East Oro, a number of families from England settled in the early years of the township's history. A few of these deserve passing notices.

Joseph Pearce, a native of Yorkshire, located on lot 15, con. 7, about the same time as the last named settler.

Three English families took up "locations" in con. 10 in 1831.
Samuel Jeremy, lot 12, con. 10.
Henry Crawford, lot 14, con. 10, (W. half)
Noah Cotton, lot 14, con. 10, (E. half)

Of these, at least two were natives of Suffolk County,- Jeremy and Cotton. Mr. Jeremy died February 1, 1890, in his 82nd year. Henry Cotton and wife both reached advanced ages. Samuel Cotton, a son of this pioneer, died August 10, 1892, in his 86th year.

John Leigh, another native of England and his sons settled upon lot 16, con. 13, and this locality has always received the name of Leigh's Corners from this pioneer.

William Baskerville and his sons, (Henry, James, John, Samuel and William), settled upon lots 14 and 15 (E. half), con. 13.

In this part of the township there settled at a slightly later date (1841) Henry Creswicke, a man who afterward held the position of County Surveyor and had the supervision of public works for nearly forty years. He was born September 26, 1804, at Hanham Court, Bitton Parish, Gloucestershire, England, received his education first at Bristol, and then at Reading Grammar School undre the famous Dr. Valpy. Mr. Creswicke first came to America in 1830, spent three years in Michigan, then returned to England and served as civil engineer on the Great Western Railway under some distinguished engineers. In the year 1841, with his wife and a small family he again came to America, at the request of Col. W.B. McVity and settled in Oro, on the west half of lot 15, con. 13. At the suggestion of Capt. J.A.E. Irving , Warden of Simcoe District in 1843, he prepared for and passed his examination as County Surveyor, after walking from his home in Oro to the City of Kingston, which was then the seat of government. His first work as County Surveyor, to which office he was appointed by Government in 1843, was the laying out of the Sturgeon Bay Road, a work done under the government Board of Public Works. Among some other of his noteworthy works in the early years was the West Gwillimbury Plank Road, besides numreous other roads and bridges mentioned in the chapters on this subject, and with these may also be included the road (1852) from Holland Landing to Mount Albert. After residing in Oro for some years he moved to the county town, and besides being county surveyor, he was an auditor of the accounts for the administration of justice for many years. At the June session of the County Council, 1881, Mr. Creswicke tendered his resignation as County Surveyor, and the Council accepted it, yet he was to retain his position until the end of the year 1881 and the office was to be abolished from that date. At the next session (in November), on the eve of his retirement the Council tendered to him their congratulations on the successful and energetic manner in which he had discharged his duties as County Engineer and Surveyor for the unusually long period of 39 years. He died January 21, 1883, and at his funeral, on the 24th, the County Council, which was then in session, attended in a body, out of respect for his memory. Of his sons, Henry Creswicke, jr., was a Provincial Land Surveyor, and Alfred E.H. Creswicke is the County Solicitor.


In 1835 there came to Oro a pioneer who had marked individuality of character, and who afterward held the position of Superintendent of Schools for the County. This was Henry Adolphus Clifford, a native of the vicinity of London, England. He received a good education in his young days, travelling two miles daily to an advanced school or college in London. Coming to Oro in 1835, he settled first on lot 27, con. 2. At a later time he moved from the farm to open a store at Dalston, and kept the post office when it was established, which was named after the suburb of London from which he came. He had a large share of the faculty of self-help, having learned something of the trade of the bookbinder; he was also carpenter, wheelwright, and shoemaker, and at a later time a photographer, too, having taken the photograph of himself from which the engraving which appears in this history was made. By his habits of thrift he acquired property, and at one time had as many as four farms in Oro. He was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Simcoe by the District Council in 1846, and served in this capacity until 1850 when the faulty system of having a superintendent of schools in each township was adopted. Mr. Clifford's reports on the schools of those early days, so far as they were printed by the District Council, show a remarkable grasp of the business with which he was dealing, and are pregnant with weighty observations on the subject. When engaged inspecting the common schools of this district, he travelled on horseback from one school to another, his inspectorate then including the present limits of Simcoe County as well as a considerable part of the present county of Grey. He was absent from home much of the time, and as there was a good deal of money in the house (because he paid the teachers, this being a very different system from that of the present day), it is said that Mrs. Clifford had some fears for its safety. So one night when there was a little more that usual, she kept a large cauldron full of hot water ready at hand and boiling for the entertainment of burglars, if any of these should make her a visit. None came, however, for the hearty reception which she had prepared for them. In December, 1870, he moved to South Falls, Muskoka, (a few miles from Bracebridge), where he kept a store and built his own buildings, made his own plows, harrows, boots and shoes, etc., altogether proving himself to be a handy man, and just such a one as could only thrive in Muskoka in its early days. He kept the store and post office at Muskoka Falls for 31 years, and died August 5, 1901, 91 years of age.

Another early settler who took a leading part in school matters in the early days of Oro was the Rev. Ari Raymond, who also lived in this part of the township. He taught school a mile west from Edgar of the present day, and started there the Congregational Church. It is said he was a clever kind of a Yankee,- genial, kind, and at the time he lived in Oro was still young in years. He was a good carpenter, and a handy kind of man, generally.

In the early days of Canada, with the exception of ministers of the established churches, no person could be regarded as a minister with a right to solemnize marriage rites until he had appeared before the Justices of the Peace in Quarter Sessions, with satisfactory proofs of his ordination. The records of the Quarter Sessions at Barrie show that Ari Raymond, Congregational Minister, on January 6, 1846, duly produced proof of his ordination, and a certificate was granted to authorize him to solemnize marriages in accordance with 1 Wm. IV., Chapter 1.

Northward from the last mentioned, at the townline, Joseph Ellsmere, a native of County Down, Ireland, came to this country with his family, in 1832, and settled on lot 1, con. 4, where they saw some of the rugged experiences of life in the wilderness. In the family were two sons, John and Joseph, who are also to be included in the roll of pioneers.

One of the early settlers at Edgar was Robert Richardson, son of the pioneer who lived on the Penetanguishene Road, and who has been already mentioned. Another was Alexander Miller, a member of the Medonte family of that name. Mr. Miller had formerly taught school at Dalston, and at one time kept the post office at Edgar.


Several Highland families from Islay, Argyleshire, settled first on the "dry lots" in the northern parts of the township, because the land was dry and the forest easier to clear. But they soon found out their mistake, and removed to more fertile ground southward.

Some of those who settled in the early years in the "dry lots" were the sons of Farquhar Bell, they having taken up lot 7, con. 8. His three sons, Gilbert, Duncan and Malcolm came from Scotland in 1833, and after living in the "dry lots," settled on lot 15, con. 8, on which the Township Hall was built at a later date. Another brother of theirs, Archibald, besides other members of the family arrived later, (before 1846, however). Their sisters were Mrs. Donald Galbraith and Mrs. Colin Gilchrist. Descendants of these families of Bell are numerous. The sons of Archibald Bell were Farquhar, Gilbert and Duncan, one of whom (Gilbert) taught school and had a general store at East Oro, and at another time taught school at Shanty Bay.

The Islay settlers in Oro and Nottawasaga brought various customs to their new homes in Upper Canada from their native Highlands. None of these were so odd as the one they employed to full their home made cloth in their own homes at what they called "kicking bees." These unique "bees" in Oro have furnished the title given by James B. Steele to his story of "McLarty's Kicking Bee."

The Campbell family were well known in the early days of Oro. Of these there were five brothers,- Donald, Archibald, Alexander, Angus and John. The last named, (John,) settled in Thorah Township, near Beaverton.

This family came to Canada from Islay, in 1831. John Campbell, son of Donald, was in the milling business, and carried on a lumber mill at one period of his life. Two sons of Angus, viz., Duncan and Neil Campbell, entered the Winnipeg College, and were well known citizens there.

Perhaps the most widely known of the original family, were the brothers Alexander and Archibald, who were twins. These settled for a time near the head of Kempenfeldt Bay, and built the first house in Barrie. As they lived in the county town for the purpose of working at their trade, they remained until 1844 or a little later, and removed to Oro, where they took up lots 17 on opposite sides of the same road, Alex. in the 4th concession and Archibald in the 5th. In the family of Archibald, the sons were Archibald, Donald and Neil. Of Alexander's family, George, a member of the County Council for a number of years, Mrs. J.J. Brown (Barrie), and Mrs. Muir. These two pioneer brothers rest near each other in the graveyard of Guthrie Church. Archibald, born November 15, 1807, died December 21, 1881; Alexander was the last of the five brothers to survive, having died October 18, 1887.

The Currie family were also among the early settlers to arrive, having come in 1833. A part of this family, after living in Oro for a year, moved to Nottawasaga and became pioneers in that western township.

After the Islay settlers left their first locations in the north part of Oro, extensive tracts of land, comparatively clear of stumps, were left uncultivated, and formed a wide common. Across this lonely stretch of ground, a settlers' road led to the northeastern parts of the township from Galbraith's Corner, diagonally to the next concession line. Around this dreary road some grim associations used to cling, for a story is current that about the year 1853, a woman walking to the home of her relatives to spend the Christmas holidays, was cruelly murdered in a lonely part of its course. The circumstances are narrated in a story which was written by Miss M.C. Ferguson, of Orillia, and which was awarded a prize in the Montreal Witness Story Competition, August, 1892.

Duncan Gilchrist was one of the prominent settlers in the northern tract now under review. In 1813, Mr. Gilchrist had belonged to the volunteer coast guard in the west of Scotland, under the Duke of Argyle. He came from Bowmore, Islay, in 1834, with his family, landed at Hodges' Landing, and they made their way along the rough settlers' road and through the bush to lot 6 in the 8th concession, some two miles or more northwest of Galbraith's Corner. On the outbreak of the Rebellion of '37, he volunteered, and in the year after the Rebellion he was an officer in the volunteer company stationed in the garrison at Penetanguishene. His sons, Colin, Duncan and Ronald, may also be included in the roll of pioneers.

Prominent amongst those Islay settlers who remained on the Upper Crossroad and near it, until later years, were the brothers John, Angus and Donald Galbraith. John Galbraith, the inn-keeper, kept the widely-known tavern of pioneer days on lot 10, con. 9, at what became known as Galbraith's Corner. As this place was on the stage road from Barrie to Orillia, Mr. Galbraith and his hostelry were well known to travellers, and it was a stopping-place of considerable notoriety in those early days. Mr. Galbraith was a councillor in the Township Council for some time. At this same corner, Knox Church, the pioneer Presbyterian place of worship in Upper Oro, was erected, and in it services were held in Gaelic down to a recent date. Some of the original settlers of this neighbourhood never acquired the English language, or did so very imperfectly. A large proportion of these settlers now lie in the churchyard where they attended services for so many years.

Duncan McMillan and his wife, natives of Islay, settled in 1831, on the lot on which the church was built, and after living there a few years he became dissatisfied with the scarcity of water, sold his claim to the farm for a cow, and bought a homestead near Jarratt's. This couple lived together during the unusually long period of sixty-three years of married life, the wife (Margaret McKerroll) dying first, on June 7, 1892, in her eighty-ninth year.

The earliest settler on the townline of Medonte and Oro was Peter McPhie (McDuffie in the lists) who came in the twenties and settled on lot 1, con. 9, Oro, near Coulson, when all around them was the forest wilderness. He was one of the very first of the Islay settlers to arrive in this country. He died in 1848.


Oro furnishes an exception of considerable interest in the settlement of this county. Its earliest settlers were chiefly Highland and Lowland Scotch, especially in the upper parts of the township, this fact having been noticed by Dr. Thomas Rolph, whose Statistical Account of Upper Canada appeared in 1836; and the general character of the settlers has been preserved almost unchanged since the township's first settlement.

Other pioneers who "located" near the Upper Crossroad in the vicinity of Rugby in the year 1831 were: James and William Tudhope, with their sons, Matthew Johnson, Henry Litster, William Rutherford, Donald Grant; John, Angus and Donald Galbraith, and many others.

The Tudhope families settled in Oro in 1831, James Tudhope, on lot 6 in the 11th concession; and his son George, afterward clerk of the township, took up half of lot 6 in the 12th.

They were natives of Lanarkshire, Scotland, and in the year mentioned, left the crowded districts of Scotland for the forest wilderness of Upper Canada. When George took possession of the lot opposite his father's, between Rugby and Jarratt's Corners, he married Miss Rutherford, a daughter of the pioneer of that name in the same neighbourhood, and entered upon the task of clearing his land. He became the first clerk of the township when it received municipal organization in 1835, and was again clerk in 1836, 1838-9-'40,'41. At the beginning of 1857 he was chosen clerk once more, and held the office until his death, January 19, 1892, having occupied the position for forty-one years. He was also secretary of the Agricultural Society from its inception, retaining the position for many years. His son, Henry J. Tudhope, was chosen his succesor as Township Clerk.

Wm. Tudhope, Orillia, was another son of James Tudhope, sr. He becane proprietor of extensive carriage works in Orillia, and his son, Jas. B. Tudhope, has represented East Simcoe in the Ontario Legislature since 1902. James Tudhope, who moved to the Township of Wallace about 1854, and afterward until his death about Aug. 1, 1894, resided in Listowel, was also a son of Jas. Tudhope.

Wm. Tudhope, brother of James, sr., settled on lot 7, in the 11th concession, and his son Walter took up, a year or two later, lot 1 in the 8th concession.

Daniel Cameron (clerk of the township from 1842 to 1845) settled quite near Rugby in 1831. The families of McCallum, Robertson, Ormsby, Cameron, Donald McLeod, and Buchanan settled also in Oro early in 1831.

The post office bearing the name of "Rugby" was established August 1st, 1860, the first postmaster being Walter Hunter, who afterward became a pioneer in the western part of Flos Township, in the neighborhood of Crossland post office at a later date.

Nearer Jarratt's, the Islay people formed a settlement at an early date, as the land there was better supplied with streams of water than the parts passed earlier in this chapter. Alex. McLean came in 1831 and settled on lot 3, con. 8. He died in 1875. His wife, Ann McPhie, came with her parents to Oro in 1834, and survived until January 29, 1901, having reached the age of 91 years. James McKerroll with his family arrived in 1831 and took up lot 1, con. 10.

Hugh Reid settled near the same place in 1834. He attained the ripe age of 82 years, and died Marach 15, 1890. Duncan Reid, with his wife and five children, came from Islay in the fall of 1836 and took up lot 2, con. 9.

John McLean settled upon lot 4, con. 10 (E. half), almost among the first to arrive in the neighborhood, and lived to a recent date, reaching the advanced age of 103 years.

The brothers Clark came to this settlement in 1832, John Clark with his family having come in that year, and "located" near Jarratt's. Duncan Clark was Clerk and Treasurer of the township from 1846 until 1856, both years inclusive.

Some other settlers than the natives of Islay settled in this locality, in which may be mentioned John Hammond. He and his family passed through their full share of the hardships of pioneer life.

Farther east, Charles Jarratt located on lot 15, con. 14, about the same time; while Rev. Charles Brough located also in 1832 on lot 1 in the 11th con.

Carruthers in his "Retrospect," notes having visited Mr. Brough on September 17, 1833:-"Called upon the Rev. Mr. Brough, of the Church of England, and during my stay with him I was much pleased with his conversation. He is labouring in the Township of Oro, etc., with much diligence in the Gospel."

Mr. Jarratt's land having a good mill site upon it, an exchange of lands was made by these two settlers in the year 1835; Rev. Mr. Brough then proceeded to erect a mill which began operations shortly afterwards. Peter McCallum took up lot 6, con. 10, at an early date; while his son, Daniel, who had previously attended Princeton College, joined him in 1840.


In the year 1832, three or four pioneers with their families arrived in the wilderness south of Bass lake, and began to subdue its wilderness. These were the following:
Joseph and Nicholas langman, natives of Cornwall, England, who took up lot 6, con. 14.
John Hardie of lot 6, con. 13.
Francis Buchanan, lot 7, (W. half), con. 13.

As already stated in this chapter, under the subdivision of Hawkestone, Wellesley Richie, the Government Agent for placing settlers on their lands, was stationed in 1832 near Bass Lake on account of its convenient position for the performance of his duties.
(See also "Memories" of Rev. Thomas Williams, p. 47.)


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