By Jeff Fournier
For the past four months, my life has been taken over by a group of five identical girls – the Dionne Quintuplets, to be exact.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the world-famous Dionne Quintuplets, they were born on May 28, 1934, just outside my hometown of North Bay, Ont., in the tiny village of Corbeil. They were the first identical quintuplets ever to be born and survive for more than a few days – ever!
What makes this story so remarkable is that the girls were born in a tiny log cabin without electricity or running water. They were born at a time when there were no fertility drugs, and they weren’t born in a fancy, big-city hospital. Not at all. In fact, they were delivered, for the most part, by midwives. When the country doctor who attended to them was finally able to get an incubator for the tiny girls, it was an old 1898 gas model. That’s what kept them alive.
While all five sisters did survive into adulthood, only Cecile and Annette are alive today.
The tiny log home where “the Quints” were born was purchased by a North Bay man in the early 1960s, and he ran it as a museum in the southeast section of the city for many years.
In 1985, the City of North Bay, through fundraising efforts by local citizens, purchased the home; moved it to its present location on Highway 17 East in the city; and continued running it as a museum.
To make a very long story short, the city now wants to divest itself of this historic home and give it to the tiny community of Strong, breaking up the historic artifact collection and distributing it among Strong, another local museum and a local library.
I’ve been fighting to stop that from happening, and my fight has certainly taken on a life of its own. I, along with a group of other North Bay residents, want the home to remain intact, with all of its artifacts, in the city of North Bay.
So what does all of this have to do with coin collecting, and how does this whole story tie in with the headline above?
Quite simply, like the Dionne homestead that I am fighting for, my own collection – and likely your collection, and many others that have been preserved and compiled over a period of years – is more valuable in the aggregate than the sum of all the initial outlays for each item.
But more importantly, my coins – my collection, and yours, too – tell a story. When I hold my coins, my medals, my tokens and my banknotes, I am holding history in my hands. These tiny pieces of history hold many stories. And together, they represent a piece of me. They are a piece of my history just as the Dionne home and its artifacts are a piece of history – their history, the history of those five little girls.
Together, the Dionne home and those wonderful artifacts tell a story. A story that needs to be told. A story that should never be forgotten.