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Second birthday

May 28 1936 was the second birthday of the Dionne quintuplets, and that day’s edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained several articles and ads commemorating this birthday.

There was a small article on the front page, continuing on to page 9, that pointed out that the Dionnes were the first quintuplets in human history to survive. Before them, 33 sets of quintuplets had been born, and all had passed away.

Greg Clark (1892-1977), the author of this article, went on to have a distinguished career in journalism, becoming one of the first Officers of the Order of Canada in 1967.

Next, there was a chart of the five babies’ weights over the course of their lifetimes:

The quintuplets were very aggressively marketed, including on their birthday. Here’s an ad for Libby’s baby food:

And an ad for Lysol:

And an ad for Carnation tinned milk:

Last but not least, the front page of the second section of the paper contained a photograph of the quints, each with her own birthday cake:

Two of the five quintuplets remain alive today: Annette and Cécile. Émilie passed away in 1954, Marie in 1970, and Yvonne in 2001.

Pierre Berton’s The Dionne Years, published in 1977, is a good history of the Dionnes and their time. In 1965, the four surviving quintuplets and co-author James Brough wrote We Were Five, a scathing indictment of their childhood and how they were exploited.

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