A mix of emotions from those marking the Dionne Quints 89th birthday 

The surviving Dionne Quintuplets turned 89 years old today and it was marked with an celebration at the museum location on Oak Street. Some celebrated and some reflected the quint’s complex legacy.

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Lindsay Udell is one of the Dionne Quintuplets biggest fans.  She must be as the 19-year-old made the trek from her home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts to North Bay to visit the Quints Museum on what is the 89th birthday for the two surviving Dionne sisters. 

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This is not the first time Udell made the trip to visit the museum, this year she was with her father, one time she made the 925-kilometer trip on her own.

“I have been really interested in multiples (substantial number deliveries) for a long time,” says Udell.  “The Dionnes’ are one of the biggest.” 

This is Udell’s third trip to the Quints Museum.    She says seeing the displays in person is a must.

“I drove here by myself last year, I’ll do anything to come here,” says a giggling Udell. 

“I think it is really fascinating, it is really interesting to see where it all happened,” says Udell who also has a Facebook Group devoted to the Quintuplets. 

The trip to the museum was much shorter for Diane Lafrance.  Originally from Timmins, Lafrance has lived in North Bay for many years.  From her childhood days the Quints Home was a place to visit.

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“When I was young, and I came and went to a cottage here,” says Lafrance.  “That was when the Quints were a big deal. That was why the highway (Highway 11) came north as the Quints were a big part of that.  They were such a draw,’ remarked Lafrance.

Kathy Culbert dropped in with LaFrance to visit the Quints birthday party at the museum. 

She remembers the Quints and their significance when she was a little girl. 

“Five little girls and being a girl myself it was just fascinating to see how beautiful they were as children,” stated Culbert. 

It may be a birthday celebration for the Quints on this day, but their lives were not happiest according to many books written on the subject, including one written by the surviving four Quints in 1963 (We Were Five), one passage stating. 

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“We dwelt at the center of a circus,” they wrote. “A carnival set in the middle of nowhere.”

Brian Callahan is a nephew of the Quints; his mother was one of the five girls’ older sister.  Callahan says providing tours can be emotionally trying.

“We get people in here (the museum) who have their own stories to tell about experiences such as Residential Schools,” says Callahan.  “That kind of ties in with what went on with this family, children being taken away from the family.  It gets hard on me from time to time,” remarked Callahan.  “There are days when I get burnt right out.” 

Callahan was asked about specific memories of his aunts. One, Emilie, passed away in 1954, two months after he was born.

“They did not come and visit (Corbeil) very often.  From their childhood and up they had enough, at age 18 all five packed their bags and left the province and stayed in Quebec,” states Callahan. 

The two surviving Quints,  Annette and Cécile are spending their birthday in Quebec.

On a happier note, there are more Dionne’s celebrations continuing in the next few days.

The week continues with the Museum open all week (till Saturday) from 10 am – 4 pm. The week culminates with “Five-the-Dionne’s – the Musical” on Friday June 2nd and Saturday June 3rd at the Capitol Centre. Tickets can be purchased at the Capitol Centre for $30.

quints pic


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