Fonds C 9 - Fred Davis and Yvonne Leroux fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Fred Davis and Yvonne Leroux fonds

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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Reference code

CA ON00009 C 9

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  • 1924-1978 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

33 cm of textual records
ca. 1525 photographs
40 drawings

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Fredrick Robson (Fred) Davis (1896?-1963) was the first and official photographer of the Dionne quintuplets.

It is believed that Fred Davis grew up in the United States. He served for Canada in the First World War, and was wounded at Amiens. In 1919, he began his career as a photographer with the Toronto World, later working with the Mail and Empire and from 1923 with the Toronto Star. He was the staff photographer at the Star for many years as a member of its "flying squad" of reporters and freelance photographers. It was as a member of this squad that Davis travelled to Callander, Ontario on 30 May 1934 to obtain the first pictures of the newborn Dionne quintuplets.

Fred Davis remained in Callander to cover the Dionne story, and was involved in negotiating an exclusive contract for the Star, which sold exclusive international rights to NEA but retained Canadian distribution rights. This agreement and later contracts between NEA and the Official Guardians covering the period 1935 to 1939 stipulated that Davis or another photographer satisfactory to Dafoe would take the photographs of the quintuplets. In practice, this meant that Davis, who had become friends with Dafoe and at whose insistence often accompanied the doctor on his various travels, was official photographer. For his services, Davis was paid by NEA. In addition to his work as official photographer, Davis held a license from the Guardians to sell postcards and prints of the Quints in small souvenir lots. For a time he operated the Quintuplet Studio located at Simpson's in downtown Toronto. Davis was not restricted in his contract with NEA from taking freelance assignments, and in 1935, for example, he photographed the Moose River mine disaster, selling those pictures to the Associated Press.

In 1939, NEA allowed its contract to lapse, and Davis went to work for King Features Syndicate which had entered into a new contract with the Guardians. He later left King Features and in 1946 formed Canada Pictures Limited in partnership with Strathy Smith of Toronto. They operated this company until 1962, with Davis continuing to take freelance assignments such as covering the Diefenbaker election campaigns of the 1950s.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Yvonne Mary Blanche Leroux (1912-1981) was the first nurse of the Dionne quintuplets.

Yvonne Leroux was born in Callander, Ontario and was educated at local schools. She was one of the first graduates of the nursing programme at St. Joseph's Hospital, North Bay. On 29 May 1934, Leroux answered a call from Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, a local physician, for a French-speaking nurse to attend the Dionne quintuplets at a farm located halfway between Callander and Corbeil, Ontario. Leroux remained a nurse of the quintuplets until December 1936. She retired from nursing after her marriage to Fred Davis in order to raise a family, but returned briefly to the profession following Davis' death.

Through her position as nurse to the Dionne quintuplets, Yvonne Leroux gained international celebrity and was singled out as a model to other nurses for her part in caring for the quintuplets. As was the case with Dr. Dafoe, broadcasters eagerly sought her as a radio guest, and companies looked to her to promote and advertise their products. After leaving her position as nurse of the Dionnes, Leroux embarked upon a lengthy lecture and publicity tour of the United States and Canada sponsored by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), the syndicate holding exclusive photographic rights to the quintuplets.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of materials created and received by Yvonne Leroux Davis and Fred Davis relating to their involvement with the Dionne quintuplets. The textual records consist of correspondence, diaries, financial and legal papers, medical records of the quintuplets, publicity materials including interview scripts and notes, and publications. Also included are drawings made by the Dionne quintuplets. The largest portion of the fonds consists of photographs of the quintuplets.

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Fonds was acquired from the Yvonne Davis Estate on 30 March 1988.


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Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Microfilm copies have been made of the textual records in this fonds.

Restrictions on access

No restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright transferred to Archives of Ontario by donor. No restrictions on reproduction or publication of material for which the donor is authorised to transfer copyright to the Archives. Other material may require permission of third party copyright holders. Copyright on photographs has expired. Consult a Reference Archivist for further information regarding reproduction and publication of photographs.

Finding aids

For a more detailed description, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:

Associated materials

The Archives has a microfilm copy of the Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe Papers (F 1359), the originals of which are held by the North Bay Area Museum and Archives. Consult the appropriate inventory for access to these materials.

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General note

Fonds formerly known as the Davis-Leroux Collection.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Rev. Feb 9/12.

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Script of description


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