OTD: Dionne quintuplets born in Ontario village

On today’s date in 1934, five identical baby girls were born to Oliva and Elzire Dionne in the tiny village of Corbeil, Ont.

At birth, the combined weight of Yvonne, Annette Marie, Cécile and Émilie was only 6.06 kilograms. The quintuplets were kept in a water-heated incubator for the first month of their lives because there was no electricity or running water in their tiny farmhouse near North Bay, Ont.

There is a one-in-57-million chance of giving birth to identical quintuplets and even less of a chance of them surviving. Despite those odds, the Dionne children survived into adulthood and became the first quintuplets to survive for more than just a few hours.

Participating North Bay businesses accepted the 1984 Dionne quintuplets trade token, which was valued at $1 through August of that year.


In 1984, a trade dollar was issued in North Bay to mark the 50th anniversary of the quintuplets’ birth.

The obverse depicts the five girls playing with their names “YVONNE • CECILE • ANNETTE • EMILIE • MARIE” as well as the words “DIONNE QUINTUPLETS” around the rim.

The reverse depicts the Dionne home with “CITY OF NORTH BAY • ONTARIO” at the top and the double dates “1934-1984” at the bottom. The $1 value and Aug. 31, 1984, expiration date are also included in a line beneath the home.

The token has a 33-millimetre diameter.

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