John Kenney /Postmedia Network
The two surviving Dionne quintuplets are applauding council’s decision to keep their birth home in North Bay.
In a statement provided Wednesday by family friend and spokesman Carlo Tarini, the surviving sisters – Annette and Cecile Dionne – praised the move, indicating they will return to North Bay for the unveiling of the log cabin in its new location.
“On this breezy April day we feel great warmth and are immensely grateful to Mayor Al McDonald and to the citizens of North Bay for their decision taken last night to ensure the survival of our birth home and museum in this wonderful city and country,” reads the statement. “We hope that the survival of the Dionne Museum in North Bay will give meaning and courage to all those who have been saddled with some type of abuse during their childhood.”
City politicians voted 7-3 in favour of hanging on to the tiny cabin in which the five sisters were born. The home is now expected to be relocated near the Discovery North Bay Museum, and work to establish a new board to oversee its future operation is expected to soon get underway.
The total cost of the relocation, which will be financed from the sale of the former regional tourist information centre property on Seymour Street, is pegged at as much as $150,000, including a foundation and landscaping
The two sisters say at the age 82 when they reflect on childhood that they know it is the first precious coin stolen from a child.
“All of us are products of our childhood,” reads their statement. “When we will return for the unveiling in a new location of our old log cabin birth home, now a museum, we will know that it wasn’t the old home we missed but our childhood. If you think about it, childhood is the most valuable thing that’s taken away from you. The fundamental condition of our childhood was powerlessness, but today we feel very empowered.”
The sisters credit that feeling in the statement to the hard work of their friends Tarini, Jeff Fournier, Miles Peters, Chris Mayne and young Kassidy Allard, the 10-year-old North Bay girl who spoke out to ensure the survival of their birth home and museum.
“These are only a few names of the exceptional people who gave their time and energy. We sincerely hope to meet and thank them when our health allows us to visit North Bay again,” reads the statement. “What we have learned through our childhood is that most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. Much as those good people who fought in an old log house in 1934 to ensure the survival of the first five identical babies born in the world alive.”
On the eve of Canada’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations, the sisters say they recognize that their childhood – although mired by dire circumstances – was, after all, very much like Canada’s own birth. “Back then Ottawa was the site which witnessed the miracle birth of a new country as the ceremonies were initiated in the new capital, a logging operation along the Ottawa River which took the name of the river as its own much as North Bay takes its name from its position on the north shore of Lake Nipissing,” reads the statement. “The location was a compromise choice which signalled a new beginning for Canada. Here then is the new beginning of the Dionne Museum and its place in Canada’s history.
“Finally, to all Canadians, especially seniors who extended their best wishes and support to us over the past few months; Thank you. When something feels right, hold on to it.”