Neonatology on the Web

Dionne Quintuplets

Dionne Quintuplets

The Dionne Quintuplets — Emelie, Cecile, Marie, Annette, and Yvonne — born in the early 1930’s, achieved a remarkable level of notoriety as a result of shrewd marketing by their parents, Dr. Dafoe, and the Ontario Canada government The following image, which I scanned from an old photo found in a Seattle antique store, was distributed by the NEA Service, Inc. (Newspaper Enterprise Association).

The flyer below was found on the back of a similar handtinted photo.

The Dionne Quintuplets
Born May 28th, 1934
Total weight at birth
13 pounds, 6 ounces

In the late spring of 1934, in a frontier farmhouse near Callander, Ontario, Canada, a miracle happened. Five tiny girl babies were born to a 25-year-old French-Canadian woman, Elzire Dionne.
The same day, papa Ovila Dionne telephoned the local newspaper, inquiring the cost of inserting a notice of birth of five babies. It was a call heard around the world. It immediately brought newspaper men, red cross nurses, an incubator, gifts, and most important of all—sorely needed help.

Dr. Allen R. Dafoe, the attending physician, was making valiant efforts to keep the tiny human bundles alive. The incubator from Chicago played a very important part. Then, after a never ending watchfulness on the part of Doctor Defoe and the nurses- medical history was made. The babies had been kept alive for six days! During the past 500 years, births of 30 other quintuplets have been reliably reported, but none ever lived more than five days.

The Dionne Quintuplets have gained in health and weight until they are today perfectly normal and exceptionally beautiful children. On May 28th, 1935, they celebrate their first birthday-an event of such importance that it was broadcast all over the world. And recently, with royal consent, the Ontario legislature passed a bill making these world famous children “wards of the King”

A part from possessing a beautiful picture of the adorable babies, we feel sure that you will be interested in knowing that though the purchase of this picture you will be contributing directly to the care and education of these young ladies. For while they are “wards of the King” their care for the next eighteen years will come from a special Trust Fund. This fund is made up and will be maintained from a percentage of profits from all articles sold under the babies name, and it will be administered without cost of any kind by the Ontario Government of Canada.

An Invitation

The Ontario Government, through its Minister of Public Welfare, the HON. David A Croll, extends to you a very cordial invitation to visit Callander, and see in person these famous babies. For information regarding routes to Callander address, Travel & Publicity Bureau, Parliament Buildings, Toronto, Canada

Some of the souvenir postcards and a souvenir booklet that were circulated at the time are shown below.

Souvenir postcard of the Dionne Quintuplets.
Souvenir postcard, mother and father of the Dionne Quintuplets.
Souvenir postcard, Dionne family home.
Souvenir postcard. The little town of Callendar, Ontario, Canada became a tourist magnet.
Souvenir postcard packet, front.
Souvenir postcard packet, back.
Cedar Rapids Gazette, July 15, 1935.

Last Updated on 11/11/23