Angela Gemmill, CBC News
The group soon to be in charge of the birth home of the Dionne quintuplets is making plans for the big move. In April, North Bay city council voted to move the family home — which currently sits along the Trans Canada Highway — to the waterfront, downtown. The house had originally been moved from the nearby village of Corbeil in the 1980s.
The Dionne Quints Heritage Board is negotiating with the city to operate and conserve the Dionne home, and the collection of artifacts that goes with it, said Ed Valenti, president of the group. The structure will be moved to Oak Street, between the Heritage Museum and Marina Point seniors residence. The board is working with the City of North Bay on tendering the contract for the construction of a foundation, said Valenti. The deadline for bids is September 11.
Once the concrete foundation cures the Dionne home will be moved, likely in early November. That move will happen in three parts said Valenti. The main part of the house, the roof and the porch or decking will all be loaded on to flatbed trucks, moved and then secured to the new foundation.
“When they moved it there they took the porch off, they took the roof off. And actually I’ve been up in the attic, and you can see where there’s bolts going down. Obviously, the way they had it all set up,” says Valenti.
Cataloguing 4,000 artifacts
Over the winter the board members plan to create a permanent record of each artifact connected with the home. There are close to 4,000 items, said Valenti.
Those include the doctor’s bag that belonged to Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, who delivered the five babies, the five baby carriages the girls used as infants, and paintings by Andrew Loomis, an artist known for paintings of the quintuplets. “There are some of the important ones that have great value, not only monetarily, but in terms of importance to the whole event,” said Valenti.
He added there is a licensed curator on the Dionne Quints Heritage Board, who will help ensure the artifacts are handled properly, and is expected to be involved with the interpretation of the material.
Valenti, a real estate agent by trade, said he got involved with the heritage board because he grew up in North Bay and thought this building, and the family connected to it, was something important for the city. “I’m always involved in homes, and this is the most unique home I’ve ever dealt with.”
Surviving Dionne quintuplets invited to grand opening
The board hopes to re-open the historical Dionne building at its new site in May, 2018.
They hope to have the two surviving Dionne quintuplets, Annette and Cécile, join them for that celebration.
“We got word that — pending health — they would consider coming to North Bay for the grand opening” When they were born in Corbeil in 1934 the Dionne quintuplets made history as the first set of quints to survive past infancy.
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