North Bay city council votes to keep Dionne house

After six months of divisive debate which nearly saw the house move out of North Bay, city council has decided to hold on to the log cabin and move it to the city's waterfront.

Just a few months earlier council voted to move log cabin to pioneer village in Sundridge

The quintuplets' birth home was bought by the city of North Bay and brought there from the nearby community in 1985, then turned into a museum dedicated to the family's story. (

The Dionne Quintuplets home is staying in North Bay.

City council voted 7-3 last night to keep the historic log cabin where the five sisters were born in 1934, and move it to the waterfront near the North Bay Museum.

Councillor Jeff Serran says this shows North Bay is "putting its money where its mouth is" when it comes to promoting heritage and culture.

"Our city would not be where it is today if it wasn't for the birth of those five girls. And I think it is time that we give the respect back," Serran told the council meeting.

The house was moved from the nearby village of Corbeil to North Bay in the 1980s was operated as a museum for decades, but closed two years ago. The land the building currently sits on beside Highway 17 has been sold to a developer.

The house where the Dionne Quintuplets were born was run as a museum for decades alongside Highway 17 in North Bay. (Friends of the Dionne Home Museum)

The city did have a plan to give the house to a group trying to start a pioneer village in Strong Township near the small town of Sundridge, about 70 kilometres to the south, but that sparked a community lobbying effort led by North Bay man Jeff Fournier, who founded the Friends of the Dionne Home Museum.

In January, council voted 5-4 to move the home, but thanks to procedural delays by supportive councillors, Fournier and his group were able to cement their plans and convince the city to give them a chance to save the structure.

"I have heard far too often over the last several months that there is no use in making waves or trying to change city hall because they have already made up their minds about things," Fournier told city council Tuesday night.

"I say phooey to that. Because people do change their minds and most people, eventually, do the right thing."

Councillor concerned by 'personal attacks'

The cost of relocating the Dionne house is expected to run about $150,000, but there has been no commitment to pay for any operating costs in the future.

That concerns North Bay city councillor Mark King, who has voted against keeping the house all along.

"We have to decide what to do when the house itself remains unvisited and the revenues become negative in its new location," says King, who says he was very concerned by the personal attacks against himself and city staff during this debate.