“What a gift! We’re thrilled!”
That was Sandy O’Grady’s reaction on learning a shipment of donated Dionne Quintuplet memorabilia was headed to the Dionne Quints Heritage Board in North Bay.
Originally from Nova Scotia, the owner of the artifacts, Carol Fraser has spent most of her life living in California.
She developed a fascination for the Quints at a young age and has been collecting artifacts nearly all her life.
“Carol reached out to the board of the Dionne Heritage Museum here in North Bay, saying she had an incredible collection of memorabilia of the Dionne history. She was fascinated by it. I’m suspecting that Carol would be in her mid-80’s. The Quints would be of her vintage, and when anything came up for sale, she went out and collected it,” said O’Grady.
“She has this marvelous, staggering collection of the Dionne’s including 10 or 12 sets of dolls of all different sizes and sets of shoes and clothes and books and calendars and framed pictures. And she said ‘I want to give it to you.’ Well, what a gift.”
The collection has grown over the years.
“She obviously knows how to use the internet and find out where things are at, and when something would come up for sale she would get it. She’s had it all these years and she just decided now that she’s selling their house and downsizing, she told us, ‘I think the Dionne collection should go home’. And we’re happy to have it.’”
The boxes have just arrived and will remain sealed while the city and Heritage Museum board coordinate a time and place to open up the boxes.
The trick has been to get them across the border to North Bay.
“They are antiques, and we’re not going to be selling anything. This is not a commercial venture. This is history,” said O’Grady.
“This lady has gone to incredible lengths, wrapping every item in acid-free paper and then bubble wrapped them. She has worked very hard to get this to us.”
Dionne Quints Heritage Board chair Ed Valenti couldn’t believe it when he received the letter from Fraser explaining her intentions.
“She has donated her whole collection that she has acquired over the 60 years that she has been following the Quints. It is a pretty valuable collection. We don’t know the exact value but there are some estimates of between $30,000 to $40,000. So, it is pretty neat. She’s paying for it to come up here. She said she just wanted to support the museum.”
The question now is, where will it all go?
“We need another place to show off the artifacts because what you see in the house is just a small percentage. Right now it is in city storage, so that is our next step, to get some kind of government funding where we can have a place where we can display it all, and hopefully in this vicinity near the Dionne home,” said Valenti.