The Dionne Quints
Left to right, Emilie,Annette,Yvonne, Marie and Cecile, Celebrating their 6th birthday, May 28th 1940.
Born May 28th 1934 in Corbeil,Ontario, Canada to Oliva and Elzire Dionne,Yvonne,Annette,Cecile,Emilie, and Marie were the first and only identical set of quintuplets known to survive to adulthood. There has been nothing like them before or since. Their birth was not due to fertility drugs,nor was there available to them any of the modern facilities that keep such infants alive. Incubators were at the time the best known treatment for preemies. Three of the girls were delivered by mid wives, the other two by a country doctor who did not expect them to survive and feared for the life of their mother.
Elzire Legros Dionne was at the time only 25 years old. Her husband,Oliva, was 31. The couple had five living children.They were Earnest who was still seven years old, Rose-six, Therese-5, Daniel-2, and Pauline only 11 months old. Another son,Leo who would have been about four had died in infancy.
The Canadian Government took custody of the girls,building them a new modern nursery across the road from the farmhouse where they were born. Here they would spend their early childhood growing up in the public eye. The Dionnes regained custody about 1942 and in 1943 the whole family moved into a new home. Mrs. Dionne had given birth twice after the quints were born. Oliva Jr. was born in 1936 and Victor in 1939. Her youngest child,Claude was born 1n 1946.
The long awaited reunion proved trying for all concerned. All five girls eventually left home, trying different careers along the way. Three of the sisters,Annette, Cecile, and Marie married and became mothers. Yvonne was never married. Emilie,who had decided to become a nun died from suffocation due to a seizure at her convent, August 6th 1954. Marie died from a stroke in 1970. Yvonne died from cancer June 23rd 2001. Annette and Cecile survive.
In 1998, Yvonne,Annette,Cecile, and the estate of Marie were awarded a substanial sum of money by the Canadian Government for their exploitation as children.