Growing up for most people probably looked like playing in a backyard and making sure to be home before dark, but it was a lot more contained for the five Dionne sisters. The quintuplets - Yvonne, Annette, Cecile, Emilie, and Marie - lived in the eyes of the public as a tourist attraction for almost a decade.
The Dionne girls were born into a poor family in Corbeil, Ontario in the early 1930s. According to the New York Times, they were the first set of quintuplets to survive more than just a few days - a fact that grabbed the attention from all over the world. So much so, that the babies were taken from their parents and placed in "Quintland," where people could come and watch them through a one-way screen.
While their parents, Oliva and Elzire, protested their children's exploitation, the two remaining sisters claimed they were happy living in the Dafoe Hospital and Nursery. "Contrary to what people think, it wasn't bad there,"Cecile Dionne told the Daily Mail. "We were young and carefree." They had around 6,000 visitors a day.
For the entire nine years that the girls lived in Quintland, their father had been running a survivor shop across the street. He sold autographs and other items which paid for a mansion for him and the rest of the family. After a long custody battle, he finally won and was able to bring the girls home.
After moving back into the mansion, the girls said life was anything but easy. Their other siblings had been turned against them by their parents, and they were constantly teased. They continued to appear in places across the country because they were their family's primary providers. Cecile Dionne, who is one of the only two remaining sisters, spoke about her depression as a kid: "It's tough to go on living when you feel that your family doesn't love you. It's difficult to live without love. It's like a plant without water."
In a book that came out in the 1960s, the Dionne sisters claimed their father sexually abused them after they returned home. He would allegedly take them on car rides by themselves and touch them in a sexual way. The girls' other siblings denied that their father had ever hurt any of his children.
Emilie was the first to die. According to Mashable, she entered a convent and had a seizure when she was 20. In 1970, Marie died of a blood clot. Yvonne also became a nun until she died in her 60s. The two remaining sisters, Cecile and Annette, both married and divorced.
After winning four million Canadian dollars in a settlement, Cecile moved into a duplex with her son, Bertrand. In 2005, he sold it and put his mother in a private care home which was paid for monthly from her bank account. In 2012, the payments stopped coming. She found out there was no money left in her account and her son was nowhere to be found.
Cecile's life was once against taken over by the government, and she was deemed incapacitated. She lives on just $1,000 a month, and her sister Annette can't financially support her. She, herself, is very frail. "When you're old, you're not worth anything anymore," she says. "When you no longer have any money, you become worthless."