The Dionne Quintuplets and Old Home Week
If it had not been for the the birth and survival of the Dionne quintuplets in nearby Corbeil in May of 1934, the 1935 OHW celebrations would not have been organized. North Bay, like the rest of the country was in the throes of the Great Depression and unemployment caused great hardships not just for many families and individuals but for the city. It could not afford to pay for such a celebration. The promoters of OHW, however, were banking on the fact that the “Quints” would be one year old in 1935 and that tourists would be arriving to see them.
The envelope for the Old Home Week invitations and stationery in 1935 used an image of the Dionne quintuplet babies and the slogan “Five Reasons Why You Should Come to North Bay.”
An invitation was sent out to as many people associated with North Bay as possible. It showed the five girls with their names and the slogan “Five reasons to visit North Bay – Gateway to the Land of Gold .” Stationery with this image sold at one cents a page and earned $150 indicating that up to 15,000 sheets may have been in circulation. (The Nugget, May 8, 1935.)
Courtesy of the North Bay and Area Museum
This “Official Song” written by Ernie Mills with music by Bill Davis is one of the few items of ephemera produced during Old Home Week.
List of Visitors from the Nugget Personals
Approximately 20,000 people attended the OHW celebrations of 1935, many of them visitors. The 159th Battalion reunion brought many veterans together again. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen also chose to have their 50th anniversary reunion during OHW thereby bringing many of the original railroaders to town. Many other Old Timers were present and the Nugget featured some of them in its pages. Locals also called the paper with the names of those who were visiting and these were published in the personals, as they were year-round. Of those listed, more came from Toronto and Sudbury than anywhere else.
List of OHW Visitors Listed in Nugget Personal Ads in 1935
Readings on the Quintuplets’ Story
In the local area, no media story has ever been bigger or person more famous than the Dionne quintuplets, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Emilie, and Marie Dionne, who captured the hearts of millions across the world in the 1930s. They were born in May 1934 and by 1935 they had become a tourist destination, living in a complex known as Quintland. Although many people benefitted financially from the rise in tourism to the area, the story of their lives did not have a happy ending. For those interested in reading more, see the attached list of suggested readings. Dionne_quintuplet_readings
In 2009-10, a fourth year seminar at Nipissing University explored the subject of the Dionne Quintuplets and Quintland from a historical perspective. Because of the nature of the sources available, the research papers produced for this course focused on media representations of the Dionne Quintuplets and those around them such as Dr Dafoe. Some of these papers have been edited, with permission, and brought togehter in book form. Student Papers on the Dionne Quintuplets.
Bibilography of Dionne quintuplet books and articles
A bibliogrpahy of books and articles related to the Dionne Quintuplets can be found in the attached document. It does not include newspaper articles, as that would be too huge a project. Quint_Bibliography
The Dionne Quint Museum
The birth home of the Dionne quintuplets is now a museum.
Amy Bennett of the Dionne Quint museum was very supportive of this project and made research material from the museuam available to the students. They have many artifacts relating to the Dionne quintuplets including magazines and published material and a large scrapbook collection. They also have copies of most of the Fred Davis images. Fred Davis was the official photographer of the Dionne quintuplets for the NEA in their early years.