Sister, Sister…Sister, Sister, Sister

I took most of the day off from heavy-duty activity, and actually finished a book today. It wasn’t a particularly riveting book, but it was old, and it introduced me to one of the oddest popular culture phenomena of 21st century Canada – The Dionne Quintuplets. The book? Five Sisters by William E. Blatz.

Five Sisters was written when said quintuplets – Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie, and Yvonne Dionne – were still kids, so it contains much speculation about their futures (as of 2016, only 2 are still living), and deals with their birth and babyhood in a scientific (or maybe “scientific”) way. In each in-depth chapter, Blatz goes through the many facets of their existence, from the development of their social skills to their strict schedule. They had quite the schedule – early rising in the morning, breakfast, playing, arts and crafts (and later on, woodworking), lunch, more play, and dinner. And through all of this, the five girls practically supported their father, mother, and siblings with the proceeds from the tourist attraction that their playground became, people coming from around the world just to see five identical little girls with curly hair riding their tricycles around in a circle.

From what I’ve learned from subsequent Internet research, once they hit adolescence and the novelty wore off, their lives crashed down to reality; no more Canada’s sweethearts, they had to go back to the farm and live with their parents and siblings, who were practically strangers to them and treated them poorly, despite most of the family’s money coming from people who came to see their daughters. As adults, three of them got married and children. Just two of them are still alive: Emilie joined a convent and died young of a seizure; Marie died of a blood clot in the 1970s; and Yvonne passed away in 2001 of natural causes.

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