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Location & Contact

 

Natasha Wiatr - Museum Curator

Hours
September to April: Thursday to Saturday from 10:00am to 5:00pm
May to August: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00am to 5:00pm

107 Lansdowne St.
P.O. Box 100
Callander, Ontario
P0H 1H0 

Phone: (705) 752-2282 
Fax:(705) 752-3116 
Email: museum@callander.ca or nwiatr@callander.ca

The Dionne Quintuplets

 

On May 28, 1934, Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe was called to the house of Oliva and Elzire Dionne to help with a delivery. When he arrived, Douilda Legros and Mary-Jeanne Lebel, two local midwives, had already delivered two tiny babies and were in the midst of a third arriving. Dr. Dafoe took over the delivery of the last two births and helped Mrs. Dionne recover, as she was very ill. Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Emilie and Marie were welcomed into the world.

Yvonne Edouida Marie was the first born at 4:10 am.
Annette Liliane Marie was the second at 4:25 am.
Cecile Marie was the third at 4:40 am.
Emilie Marie was the fourth at 4:45 am.
Marie Reina Alma was the fifth at 4:57 am.

Yvonne and Annette shared an embryonic sac, and Emilie and Marie shared one. Cecile was alone.

Their total weight was 13 pounds 5 ounces, with Yvonne weighing the most at 2 pounds 8 ounces, and Marie weighing 1 pound 8.5 ounces.

Father:  Oliva Dionne was born in 1904 (d.1979).
Mother:  Elzire Legros Dionne was born in 1909 (d. 1986).
They were married September 15, 1925 at the age of 21 and 16. At the time of the Quints being born Elzire was 24 years of age and Oliva was 31. They continued to have children which brought the total of 14 children all together for the Dionnes. Ernest (b. 1926, d. 1995), Rose-Marie (b. 1928, d. 1995), Therese (b. 1929), Leo (b. 1930, d. 1930), Daniel (b. 1932, d. 1995), Pauline (b. 1933, d. 2018), Oliva Jr. (b. 1936, d. 2016), Victor (b. 1938, d. 2007), and Claude (b. 1946, d. 2009).

The odds of quintuplets are 1 in 57, 289, 761. A single egg was twinned once to produce Yvonne & Annette, and then twinned twice to produce Cecile and another egg. This other egg split to produce Emilie and Marie. It was only the third set of identical quintuplets in recorded history; they were the only ones to survive more than a few hours in the 500 years previous. Mrs. Dionne had passed an egg-shaped object three months into her pregnancy, and this was believed to have potentially been a sixth child. All were right handed and their hair whorls ran counter-clockwise except Emilie, who was was a mirror twin of Marie and was left handed. Their birth arose a worldwide curiosity and turned them into a sensation of the 1930s and 1940s eventually becoming a $500-million asset to the province of Ontario.

Mother Elzire Dionne with her daughters, the Dionne quintuplets.