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The Dionne Quintuplet's Story and My Mother's Cherished Doll Namesake

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Dionne Quintuplet Doll named Annette

Dionne Quintuplet Doll named Annette

Love of Dolls

To her dying day, my mother cherished her Dionne Quintuplet doll named Annette, which also became a part of my memories growing up because of seeing it from my earliest years. Annette, plus the little wicker cradle, graced her bedroom in our home.

That special doll had been given to my mother when she was still a little girl, and she had kept it all the days of her life. She robustly played with it when she was young, and it bears the scars of those joyful times. With all of the playful use through the years, Annette's doll eyes had become crazed and were a bit scary looking to me when I was young. There are cracks in her molded head and some wear and tear on other parts of her body, as well.

My grandmother had sewn clothes for her, and at one time, she had many different outfits according to the stories I had heard from my mother. All that now remains is a jumper or pajama and a robe in addition to some knitted little booties.

My mother always loved dolls and was sorely disappointed that I was more of a tomboy when I grew up. Back in those days, I much preferred being outside, climbing a tree, riding a bicycle, drawing a picture, or reading a book than spending my precious time playing with dolls.

My niece, who also remembers growing up and seeing the Dionne Quintuplet doll and wicker carriage at her grandma's house, now has ownership of this cherished doll. That and the bronzed baby shoes are just some of the family items that will be nice for her to have and hopefully keep in the family.

The Dionne Quintuplets

People worldwide became fascinated with this newsworthy event, the birth of identical girl quintuplets on May 28, 1934, in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Dafoe, with the help of two midwives, delivered the quints who were two months premature. The largest baby girl was only 3 pounds and 4 ounces.

The Dionne Quints were the first known identical females to be born and survive, and this was long before the days of in vitro fertilization, where multiple births have since become more commonplace. What subsequently happened to them would probably never be allowed to occur in this day and age.

After they were only four months of age, the Dionne Quintuplets were taken away from their parents and made wards of the Ontario government for the next nine years under the Dionne Quintuplet's Guardian Act of 1935.

Mitchell Hepburn with Dionne Quintuplets

Mitchell Hepburn with Dionne Quintuplets

Media Frenzy

A media frenzy began recording their every movement and milestone. An entire tourist industry was built by the Ontario government and Dr. Dafoe revolving around the little quintuplets.

The government built a nine-room nursery across the street from their birthplace. Soon about 6,000 people a day could view the girls via an observation room.

Little Yvonne, Annette, Marie, Cecile, and Emilie were dressed identically and graced the cover of Life Magazine several times when that magazine only cost 10 cents.

Various advertisements, such as ones for Quaker Oats and Karo syrup, featured the Dionne Quintuplets. Published picture books, as well as calendars and postcards, kept their images in the public eye. Spoon sets and cereal bowls had the girl's names on them. Eventually, movie films portrayed the famous Dionne Quints.

Dolls were made, and many children besides my mother would have received them as gifts. They came in various sizes, and probably the best-known manufacturer of them was by Madame Alexander.

My mother's doll is around 19 inches long, and the head, arms, and legs are all movable. The eyes open and close depending upon if Annette is upright or supine. Her size is almost like that of a real baby. Many little girls, in addition to my mother, would have liked playing with these dolls.

With the media attention focused on the Dionne Quintuplets for so many years of their early lives, this would have continually helped to spur the purchase of products labeled with their names.

The Dionne Quintuplets arrive in Toronto for presentation to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.  Toronto, Canada.

The Dionne Quintuplets arrive in Toronto for presentation to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Toronto, Canada.

Exploitation of the Dionne Quintuplets

These darling little girls were never allowed to live normally. They lived in a fishbowl environment for all of their early years.

Quintland, as it became known, generated millions of dollars for the Canadian government, and Dr. Dafoe also profited. The Canadian government supposedly made about a half-billion dollars from the promotion of the Dionne Quintuplets! The girls never earned a dime!

After nine years of fighting to get custody of their quintuplets back, the Dionne sisters reunited with the rest of their family, but this also did not end happily. Abuse of the girls allegedly took place. As soon as they were able, at age 18, the Dionne quintuplets left their home, never to return.

Dionne quintuplets, accompanied by Mrs. Olive Dionne & Frere Gustave Sauve, take part in a program of religious music at Lansdowne park, during the five day Marian Congress which prayed for peace & celebrated the centenary of the Ottawa archdiocese.

Dionne quintuplets, accompanied by Mrs. Olive Dionne & Frere Gustave Sauve, take part in a program of religious music at Lansdowne park, during the five day Marian Congress which prayed for peace & celebrated the centenary of the Ottawa archdiocese.

Where the Dionne Quintuplets were Born

Story of the Dionne Quintuplets

Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Peggy Woods

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