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Dolls and My Mother's Cherished Dionne Quintuplet One Named Annette

Updated on March 4, 2017
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

To her dying day, my mother cherished her Dionne Quintuplet doll named Annette which also became a part of my memories growing up because of seeing it from my earliest years and up until this very day of writing. It and the little wicker cradle graced her bedroom in our current home which we shared together with my husband.

That very special doll had been given to my mother when she was still a little girl and she had kept it all the days of her life.

It had obviously been played with in a robust manner and bears the scars of those joyful times.

My mother always loved dolls and was sorely disappointed that I was more of a tomboy when I was growing up. Back in those days I much preferred being outside climbing a tree, riding a bicycle, drawing a picture or reading a book than spending my precious time playing with dolls.

My mother's Dionne Quintuplet doll named Annette
My mother's Dionne Quintuplet doll named Annette | Source

Paper Dolls

I do remember playing with paper dolls for a while, crimping the tabs of paper when changing outfits...but that never held my interest for long. My mother enjoyed those moments spent with her first born little girl doing more feminine things.

My two brothers who followed in birth order could have cared less about playing with dolls...paper or any kind for that matter.

We would sit at the kitchen table in our Wisconsin country home and we would evaluate the appearance of the paper cut out boys and girls with their newly attached paper frocks and talk about which ones we preferred.

We would be saying things like this: I think a pink hat on that little girl would make her dress look even prettier! Should we put a coat on her? It might be cold outside when she goes to church.

Those simple times of playing with my mother and paper dolls are treasured memories even though those play-times were not frequent.

Image of Paper Dolls

Paper dolls
Paper dolls | Source

Storybook Dolls

A special double door glassed cabinet with multiple shelves held all sorts of special elaborately dressed bisque storybook dolls mounted on pedestals.

They decorated my bedroom and were gifts to me when I was a child.

Many of these 5 to 6 inch dolls were dressed in costumes appropriate to the countries they represented.

Some of my favorites were dressed as brides and bridesmaids.

It was just part of the landscape as far as I was concerned as I rarely touched them much-less played with them.

They were colorful and pretty however.

Today as collector's items, had those original storybook dolls been kept, they would be worth some money!

Did you have a favorite doll when you were growing up that you have kept and cherished?

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Walking dolls

One time only did I wish to have a certain type of doll.

We were at a church carnival fair in the 1950s and fundraising tickets were purchased in booklets. My parents gave an equal amount of individual tickets to my brothers and me to be used for whatever we wished.

Pony rides, cotton candy, chances at winning stuffed animals by playing games are examples of some of the entertainment and could be accessed by using our tickets.

I used up almost all of my tickets on the chance of winning a walking doll that looked a bit like Shirley Temple with blond curly hair. Since I was not exactly a doll aficionado, I had never previously seen a walking doll that could ambulate right along next to me as I held her hand.

That special doll really captured my fancy that day!

Did I win it? No...some little girl that had only used one of her tickets ended up winning the doll. Lesson learned on taking chances! To this day I am not much of a gambler!

Later, probably for my birthday or Christmas, I was given that very doll as a gift from my thoughtful parents.

My mother was probably so delighted thinking that finally she had her little girl interested in playing with dolls! How long did it hold my attention? Little more than a nano-second.

Old wicker carriage that has been in the family for generations.
Old wicker carriage that has been in the family for generations. | Source

All of my dolls including that life sized walking doll (which probably cost my parents a pretty penny) were given to some neighbors who were delighted to receive them when at my age of just turning 13 my parents and grandparents moved our families from Wisconsin to Texas.

While I got rid of all of my dolls, my mother kept her very special Dionne Quintuplet doll and it continued to move with her from home to home as the years and her circumstances changed.

Obviously Annette meant a lot to her!

Annette with her jumper/pajamas and little knitted booties being worn.
Annette with her jumper/pajamas and little knitted booties being worn. | Source

With all of the hard use through the years, Annette's doll eyes had become crazed and were a bit scary looking to me when I was young.

Closeup of Annette's head
Closeup of Annette's head | Source

There are cracks in her molded head, and some wear and tear on other parts of her body as well.

My mother's favorite doll
My mother's favorite doll | Source

My grandmother had sewn clothes for her and at one time she had many different outfits according to the stories I had heard from my mother. All that now remains is a jumper or pajama and a robe in addition to some knitted little booties.

The doll Annette in her carriage
The doll Annette in her carriage | Source

My niece who also remembers growing up and seeing the Dionne Quintuplet doll and wicker carriage always at her grandma's house will now take ownership of this cherished doll the next time she comes here for a visit. That and the bronzed baby shoes that I recently wrote about are just some of the mementos that it will be nice for her to have and hopefully keep in the family.

My mother's doll Annette with eyes half closed.
My mother's doll Annette with eyes half closed. | Source

The Dionne Quintuplets

People all around the world became fascinated with the newsworthy event of the birth of identical girl quintuplets on May 28, 1934 in Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Dafoe with the help of two midwives delivered the quints who were 2 months premature. The largest baby girl was only 3 pounds and 4 ounces.

Mitchell Hepburn with Dionne Quintuplets
Mitchell Hepburn with Dionne Quintuplets | Source

The Dionne Quints were the first known identical females to be born and survive and this was long before the days of in vitro fertilization where multiple births have since become more commonplace.

What subsequently happened to them would probably never be allowed to occur in this day and age.

After they were only 4 months of age, the Dionne Quintuplets were taken away from their parents and made wards of the Ontario government for the next 9 years under the Dionne Quintuplet's Guardian Act of 1935.

A media frenzy began recording their every movement and milestone.

An entire tourist industry was built by the Ontario government and Dr. Dafoe revolving around the little quintuplets.

The Dionne Quintuplets

The Dionne Quintuplets arrive in Toronto for presentation to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.  Toronto, Canada.
The Dionne Quintuplets arrive in Toronto for presentation to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Toronto, Canada. | Source

Across the street from their birthplace a 9 room nursery was built and soon about 6,000 people a day could view the girls via an observation room.

Little Yvonne, Annette, Marie, Cecile and Emilie were dressed identically and graced the cover of Life Magazine several times when that magazine only cost 10 cents.

Picture books were published as well as calendars and postcards showing the little quintuplets.

Various advertisements such as ones for Quaker Oats and Karo syrup featured the Dionne Quintuplets.

Spoon sets and cereal bowls with the girls names on them were sold.

Movie films were eventually made about the famous Dionne Quints.

Dionne quintuplets, accompanied by Mrs. Olive Dionne & Frere Gustave Sauve, take part in a program of religious music at Lansdowne park, during the five day Marian Congress which prayed for peace & celebrated the centenary of the Ottawa archdiocese.
Dionne quintuplets, accompanied by Mrs. Olive Dionne & Frere Gustave Sauve, take part in a program of religious music at Lansdowne park, during the five day Marian Congress which prayed for peace & celebrated the centenary of the Ottawa archdiocese. | Source

Dolls were made and many children besides my mother would have received them as gifts. They were made in various sizes and probably the best known manufacturer of them were by Madame Alexander.

My mother's doll is around 19 inches long and the head, arms and legs are all movable. The eyes open and close depending upon if Annette is upright or supine. Her size is almost like that of a real baby and many little girls in addition to my mother would have liked playing with these dolls.

With the media attention being focused on the Dionne Quintuplets for so many years of their early lives, this would have continually helped to spur the purchase of products labeled with their names.

The Canadian government supposedly made about a half billion dollars from the promotion of the Dionne Quintuplets!

My mother's Dionne Quintuplet doll
My mother's Dionne Quintuplet doll | Source

Where the Dionne Quintuplets were born...

A markerOntario, Canada -
Ontario, Canada
get directions

Exploitation of the Dionne Quintuplets

These darling little girls were never allowed to live normal lives and were forced to live in a fish bowl environment for all of their early years.

Quintland where they were raised and as it became known generated literally millions of dollars for the Canadian government and Dr. Dafoe also profited.

The girls were never paid a dime!

After 9 years of fighting to get custody of their quintuplets back, the Dionne sisters were reunited with the rest of their family but this also did not end happily.

Abuse of the girls allegedly took place. As soon as they were able, at ages 18, the Dionne quintuplets left their home never to return.

Dionne Quintuplet Doll

My mother's favorite doll
My mother's favorite doll | Source

Now you know a little more about some of the dolls in my life and also the one especially cherished by my mother...the Dionne Quintuplet doll named Annette.

What do you think of how the Dionne Quintuplets were raised?

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Story of the Dionne Quintuplets

© 2010 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

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    • Peggy W profile image
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      Peggy Woods 24 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      From what you wrote, you obviously had a lot of fun playing with your bisque doll over the years. Playing with paper dolls was fun and glad we both had that experience.

      Sending hugs and blessings your way also.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 24 months ago from sunny Florida

      O Peggy I could hear the tenderness in your voice as you recalled your Momma's love for the special doll. And walking with you as you remembered your childhood dolls and paper dolls brought many memories of my own. One bisque doll in particular was a favorite of mine....she has not weathered the years very well as I played with her often.

      Hoping all is good with you...thanks for the memories.

      Please know that hugs and blessings are on the way via many Angels. ps

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi michelle,

      I just took a look and cannot find a maker's mark on the doll unless it would have been on the head where part of it has chipped off which you can see on the photos. Good luck with your search for one with a mark.

    • profile image

      michelle 2 years ago

      I wanted to ask if the doll of the quints that you have from your mom has a makers mark? Thanks,I cant find her anywhere.My email is robotica1@aol.com.I would love to find one like yours .thx michelle

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Hyphenbird,

      I am happy to hear that this hub brought smiles to your face and memories of your mother as well as the Dionne Quintuplets. Thanks for your comment.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Hi Peggy. My Mama loved dolls also. I still have one of her favorites. Your Hub brought me smiles as I remembered Mama and those Quints. Thank you.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rebecca,

      I believe that I linked that hub you wrote about Babyland General Hospital to my hub about the Cabbage Patch Kids Dolls. It sounds like a great tour. Thanks for your comment on this hub about the Dionne Quintuplet Doll.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi moonlake,

      I agree from everything that I have heard or read about the Dionne Quintuplets that they did not have anything like a normal family life. It is sad. My mother certainly loved her special doll all the days of her life. All of the promotional work regarding the Dionne Quints obviously worked! I see on Ebay and Amazon that there are still collectors out there wishing to acquire them. Thanks for your comment, vote and the share.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What a lovely Hub on dolls. It is so neat that your mother still has that doll. I live near Babyland general hospital, where the Cabbage Patch kids were born. It is a great tour, I even posted a Hub about it.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      So sad about the Dionne Quintuplets it's a good thing they had each other because they really didn't have anyone else to love them. Enjoyed your hub and the story of your mother's doll. Voted up and shared.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi SanneL,

      Nice to hear that you enjoyed this hub about my mother's Dionne Quintuplet doll and my history with dolls (which is not the longest). Ha! Perhaps you should do a hub about your doll, Benny? Thanks for your comment and votes.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 5 years ago from Sweden

      What a lovely hub!

      I was never a doll person. However I had one doll. I had named her Benny?!

      She is still with me today. Same as Anette, my Benny's eyes had opened and closed at first, but later on my father had to glue them put, since they started to fall out. Since then, Benny's eyes become weird and were a bit scary looking.

      This hub brought back some fond memories.

      Voted up and beautiful!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Sally's Trove,

      Obviously you were a doll lover if you have kept them all of this time. Thanks for commenting about my mother's favorite Dionne Quintuplet one named Annette. Will we be seeing future hubs about some of your dolls?

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Peggy, I haven't looked at my childhood dolls for decades. They are carefully packed away, at this point for what purpose I don't know. You've inspired me to take them out of their boxes and look into their history, as you did with Annette. Thanks for the wonderful journey into the past.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Micky,

      The Dionne Quintuplets had a hard life if that is what you are referring to with your comment. As to the dolls...my mother really did like dolls and especially this one called Annette that will soon be passed on to my niece when she next visits. Thanks for the visit.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Stephanie H,

      The Dionne Quintuplet story is a sad one indeed. Hope the two surviving quints and their heirs get some of that money that they should have been paid many years ago. My mother would have loved playing with me and dolls when I was growing up. Alas, like you, I was a tomboy. I was also given china dolls from my maternal grandmother which we mailed off to an aunt and uncle who have kids and grandkids. Hopefully someone in that family will value them more than just for the money they might bring. Thinking back to the paper dolls...guess I liked those best. That was a looooooooooong time ago! Haha!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      Thank you Peggy. The hub is much more than the title implies. God bless Dear!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

      Hi Peggy,

      I enjoyed your hub about dolls even though I was a tomboy who didn't care much about dolls growing up. I did play with paper dolls, though, and at one point made clothes for a little china headed doll my mother gave me. My mother and aunts gave me many beautiful dolls which I no longer have. Now I buy dolls for my granddaughters who are also tomboys! Maybe dolls are really better toys for women than for little girls?

      The Dionne quints were still occasionally in the news when I was growing up -- what a sad story!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Cheryl,

      That was quite a life the Dionne quintuplets had for the beginning years of their lives spent in the public eye! Yes, I believe that my niece will cherish the doll named Annette just like my mother did. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Cheryl 6 years ago

      Another interesting and informative hub with lovely photos. It is really great that your Mother adored Annette her favorite doll for such a long time. It was a sad and disappointing life the way the Dionne quintuplets had to live. Annette is a beautiful doll that your niece will treasure like your Mother did for many more years.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Mike,

      Glad that you found this hub about dolls and especially my mother's special doll of interest. As you so nicely stated..."Heirlooms are a peek inside the mind and heart and soul of the folks that enjoy and appreciate them." Thanks for the comment.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      I am always fascinated by the things we treasure throughout our lives, whatever they may be. Heirlooms are a peek inside the mind and heart and soul of the folks that enjoy and appreciate them. This was an amazing look at your youth and family, and I thank you for letting us share in your memories. This was truly beautiful.

      Mike

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      OK Billy...I'll be looking for a hub from you with the latest auction amounts paid for collectible dolls! Haha! Knowing you, you will research and do it.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 6 years ago

      Peggy you may have a point there on those collectible dolls :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Prasetio,

      As far as finding the topic of dolls and my mother's cherished Dionne quintuplet doll named Annette...not hard as that particular doll has been around for as long as I remember. Now that my mother died, I am passing some things on to people who might wish to cherish the things that she cared about and by writing these hubs, I am also preserving them for my memory when the things are out of my sight. Glad that you enjoyed this and thanks for your comment.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Dear, Peggy. I love this hub, very original. How do you find great topic like this one. Good story and I found vintage dolls inside this hub. Thanks for showing us this, beautiful! I can't wait to vote up.

      Blessing,

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Billy,

      Somehow I don't think of you as keeping up with the latest (or even past) dolls that were/are in demand. Now...if they passed the million dollar mark in sales like some of the art masterpieces you have written about...all that would change. :-)

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 6 years ago

      I have one niece so I need to keep to to date on dolls - though you know I don't :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Sa`ge,

      Happy to hear that you enjoyed this hub about dolls and especially my mother's favorite doll, Annette. Thanks!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Scribenet,

      Like you I also had more boys to play with when I was young and dolls were not on the agenda. Your rock climbing sounds like fun. Tree climbing was our main entertainment as far as scaling heights. Happy to hear that reading this hub about my mother's cherished Dionne qunituplet doll, Annette, it brought back such happy memories for you. Thanks for letting me know by way of this comment. :-)

    • Sa`ge profile image

      Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

      this is a beautiful hub, so wonderful. thank you, i so enjoyed this. :D hugs :D

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is a wonderful Hub Peggy! The pictures of Annette in her clothes made by your grandmother are priceless! I can see why you have kept her and wish her to live on in your family.

      Thanks, also for reminding me of the paper dolls. I seem to recall playing with them and this Hub brought back those memories!

      I did play with dolls and tea sets when I was alone, but in company I could be found scaling rocks and wrecking my clothes in the process, since there were more boys than girls in the area I grew up in!

      My favorite was a doll I remember that was won for me at a fair...she had pasted on hair which I washed and therefore she had a lopsided tuft...but I loved her anyway! Unfortunately, all my dolls have been long gone!

      As you can see, you took me down memory lane! Thanks!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Celesta,

      As to my mother's Dionne quintuplet doll Annette being well kept...it was certainly not put on a shelf, but well played with through the years. Not in pristine shape, but it was loved and cherished. My niece wants it of which I am happy and it will soon pass into her hands. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Celesta 6 years ago

      A beautiful doll, well kept. Like you, back in the day, I would rather be outside playing or reading. Thanks for sharing. You have a treasure of keepsakes.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi reddog1027,

      It seems that we both had similar tastes in playing with dolls...or not, more accurately. As to the Dionne Quintuplets and all the publicity about their every move, it was quite the rage back then. It is no wonder your mother told you stories about the Dionne Quintuplets just as my mother did in telling me. For most youngsters, it is now just a part of history of which they may, or may not know. Thanks for the visit.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi dahoglund,

      So...you have a real living doll amidst all the others, right? (Smile) One of my mother-in-laws friends loved teddy bears. When they were both living in a senior retirement center I got to see Fanny's apartment one day and teddy bears of all sizes were literally everywhere! I will always remember Fanny and her love for teddy bears. If your wife has that many dolls, she will probably be remembered in the same way.

    • reddog1027 profile image

      reddog1027 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I like you was never a doll person. Not that my mother did not try. I also remember my mom talking about the Dionne quints and their life in a fish bowl. Thanks for an interesting hubs and a walk down memory lane.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      It seems like she collects all kinds. They dominate the household.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello dahoglund,

      Learning about the Dionne Quintuplets in more detail was interesting but also sad. Only 2 of them are alive today. Apparently they are trying to get some of that mega-money that was earned by "using" them but of which none went to them directly. Amazing! What type of dolls does your wife collect? My collections were books but even those I am starting to re-read and cull these days. Thanks for the comment.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      It seems to me I have seen dolls like that one, however I don't pay much attention to dolls. My wife collects dolls for reasons unknown to me.Interesting history of the Dionne Quintuplets. I have heard of tehm but didn't know much about them.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Happyboomernurse,

      So very happy to hear that this hub about dolls and my mother's special one, Annette, one of the Dionne Quintuplet dolls transported you back to your innocent childhood days. "Those were the days my friend, I thought they'd never end..." Looking in the mirror...they were quite some time ago. Haha! Appreciate your comment as always.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Kaie,

      As popular as Shirley Temple was and the sale of dolls looking like her, apparently the Dionne Quintuplet dolls and memorabilia were even greater in sales. Not too surprising considering the years of ongoing publicity! Nice that you still have and cherish your mother's doll. Thanks for your comment.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Ah, Peggy, you've done it again-tugged at my heart strings with this beautifully written story about dolls, a treasured family heirloom and the Dionne Quintuplets.

      I, too, was a tomboy, but I did have one treasured doll- Patty Play Pal who was just my size and looked like my identical twin.

      Thanks for another wonderful trip back to the innocent days of childhood.

    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

      Simply gorgeous........... I only have one of my mother's dolls; a Shirley Temple. These were beautiful, and I cherish mine. Thanks for this! Kaie