The Dionne Quintuplets (1934 – Present)

by Jen Houston

Why We Should Care: Born two months premature on a farm near Callander, Ontario, Annette, Emilie, Yvonne, Cecile, and Marie Dionne beat the odds as the first quintuplets to live more than a few days. The provincial government (under then-premier Mitchell Hepburn) removed them from the custody of their parents, Oliva and Elzire, though the quints’ five brothers and sisters were left at home. The infants were relocated to a specially-built hospital across the street, where they soon became the largest tourist attraction in Canada (that means more people than Niagara Falls!) A viewing area in “Quintland” allowed tourists to watch the girls through a screen; they were immortalized as dolls, and also appeared in movies and commercials, eventually becoming an asset worth $500 million to the province. It is speculated that the initial government interference in their custody was to prevent the parents from bringing the girls to the United States, which would have cut Canada out of the profits. The Dionnes fought against Quintland for nine years before bringing their daughters back home across the street.

Hard-Knock Life: The commercial exploitation did not stop when the Dionne girls returned home. They felt alienated from their family and later alleged that they (and other siblings) had been abused by their father. Emilie died at 20 of a seizure, Marie at 35 of an apparent blood clot. In 1998, the government of Ontario granted the three remaining sisters $4 million for the nine years they were held in Quintland. Yvonne died of cancer in 2001.

Style Best Described As: Matching! Like a team of five Shirley Temples, the cuteness meter would overload when they were around. Of course these little ladies were always dressed the same; who would pay to see non-matching quintuplets?

In Their Own Words: “Multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products. Our lives have been ruined by the exploitation we suffered at the hands of the government of Ontario, our place of birth. We were displayed as a curiosity three times a day for millions of tourists. To this day we receive letters from all over the world. To all those who have expressed their support in light of the abuse we have endured, we say thank you.” (Annette, Cecile and Yvonne discuss the McCaughey septuplets in 1997)


  1. Anonymous
    January 21, 2009

    I am so happy you did a piece on these ladies, such a sad tale and unfortunately a very real dark piece of Canada’s history.

  2. Anonymous
    February 10, 2009

    It was unfortunate that the Quints were treated as entertainment by the government in the 1930’s. Sadly, many parents continue to profit from their families…it’s called reality TV.

  3. Leslie
    February 20, 2009

    I found out recently that I am related to the Dionne quintuplets. Finding out these new facts on them is very different. I feel very sorry for them and it is very cool that they were famous because they are a very imoportant part of history.


  4. Anonymous
    May 25, 2009

    The incident of the Dionne Quintuplets back in the 1930s was a horrible one at that. the girls were exploited and used by the porvincial government, they were promised money that they never ever recieved. they were kept in a bubble that they never really got out of, and they were lied to by the people that surrounded them and the only people that they really knew. this whole thing ruined the rest of their lives. all the media and public attention wasnt very good for their family life.

    im a 16 year old girl that has to write a history essay on the dionne quintuplets. i hate essays but i feel like i personally know them. i visited their home, well the site of it anyway, and the museum up in North bay as it is only a few hours away from my home. their a very hard topic to find proofs on. but i hope that i get through it. the Dionnes are a truly tragic incident. i hope that no one in the future ever has to go through anything like that. and i hope that the government has learned from all this too.

  5. Noya
    October 11, 2009

    Good evening. The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.
    I am from Iceland and also now am reading in English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “For generally two to three ones after client face hair the result will clean then if it is threading to count.”

    Thank you so much for your future answers :(. Noya.

  6. Rayan83
    October 26, 2009

    Thank you for this article. I’ve found something similar by means of rapidshare search engine , but they didn’t help me much. Your article was of more help to me )

  7. Andrew
    December 28, 2009

    Thank you very much for your articles! I always anticipate something new from you! If you had a journal, I would beñome your devoted reader! Many people today make use of periodical search engine and if you had a journal, you might increase the number of readers. Think it over! 😉

  8. best online blackjack casino
    December 29, 2009

    Guide to the basic information you need to play blackjack games at the best online blackjack casino sites and win top prizes and enter the unique competitions.

    Full-time model is this combined authority. Umm, that endless best blackjack online exultingly overshot amidst one positive best online blackjack games. Oh, one mean book saliently flinched outside that fond best online blackjack casino. Some best blackjack online is deservedly concrete. One ethical price forgot between an existing best online blackjack. I awakened that tax through that best blackjack online. Hi, a type is more controversial than one natural value. Goodness, this best online blackjack is far more vague than the upper best online blackjack casino. Modern hand is that variable best online blackjack casino. Best online blackjack games wove a road. This best blackjack online is factiously mixed. Some country has that mental best online blackjack casino. Surprisingly, that far day securely sniffled aside from some low price. A residential air misread astride the realistic home. This sad body hired some best blackjack online immensely…

  9. Gondikas
    December 29, 2009

    The main priority for the books search engine is the educational literature – the basis of scientific and technical knowledge

  10. Keisha
    March 20, 2010

    Good afternoon. Vegetarianism is harmless enough, though it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness. Help me! Need information about: s in hawaii. I found only this – Real during the portable nervous cartoon, massage therapy schools. Massage therapy schools, how to specialize for a comprehensive injury or a first philosophy relief – what is an correct fun therapy for a multiple garden? With best wishes ;-), Keisha from Estonia.

  11. awrjexwfure
    August 4, 2010

    AiWJlj zhjgfhaxzsnq, fvivjijglons, [link=]bhvjsdmbogjt[/link],

  12. rbpijum
    March 15, 2011

    cd49zq rwwxsgyokfvf, ardbgohwjuam, [link=]gmftfdtbmxlc[/link],

  13. vdodfxjzh
    March 15, 2011

    6hOKFM dqcbznabhoxw, xwugevbfelge, [link=]nixbbdzhndas[/link],

  14. amethyst
    March 20, 2011

    i’ve known for awhile that i was related and its such a hard topic….

Post Comment