Surviving Dionne Quintuplet to visit birth home in May for birthday celebration
The Dionne Quints Heritage Board announced on April 7 that Annette Dionne will be unable to attend the birthday celebration due to health concerns.
From a miracle childbirth to a tragic upbringing, the story of the five Dionne Quintuplet sisters continues to capture the imagination of all.
One of the two surviving Dionne Quintuplet sisters, Annette, will be visiting her birth home, which has now been turned into a museum, in North Bay this spring.
The sisters' nephew Brian Callahan and Ed Valenti, the Dionne Quints Heritage Board Chairman, are in close conversation about Annette’s visit.
"I'm looking forward to it. I hope her health will hold and she will be able to make the trip," Callahan said.
Annette is scheduled to attend her 89th birthday celebrations on her birth weekend at the home on Oak Street in the city in May. It'll be her second visit in five years. In 2018, Annette visited the home to a sizable crowd.
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Due to ailing health, her sister Cecile will not be attending the event.
"We're going to have to limit her access. But we've already gotten people on Facebook tell us they're coming up,” said Valenti.
The world was amazed in 1934 when the five identical sisters were born near Corbeil, Ont. to Oliva and Elzire Dionne. The girls were all born premature. It was a one in 57 million chance of giving birth to identical quintuplets and even less chance of them surviving. That amazement quickly turned into love for the girls.
"The birth was something that energized people because of the Great Depression and all that," Valenti said.
After four months with their family, custody was signed over to the Red Cross who paid for their care and oversaw the building of a hospital for the sisters.
Less than a year after this agreement was signed, the Ontario Government stepped in and passed the ‘Dionne Quintuplets' Guardianship Act,’ which made them wards of the Crown until the age of 18. The government and those around them began to profit by making them a significant tourist attraction.
It's estimated three million people visited North Bay to see the girls.
"What she (Annette) wants more than anything is to focus on children and she wants the children to be forefront because of what happened,” said Callahan.
Yvonne died in 2001, Marie died in 1970 and Émilie died in 1954.
Before Annette’s arrival, the board is hoping to secure some land adjacent to the museum for landscaping and storage of priceless Dionne quintuplet artifacts.
"Subject to the city agreeing to reserve west of the museum for future projects," said Valenti.
A story that lives on all those years ago and a lesson of love and tragedy.
For more details on the event, visit the Quints Dionne Facebook page.
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