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Pictou County quintuplets remembered

County councilor Peter Boyles displays a plaque about the Murray quintuplets, born in Hillside, Pictou County in 1880.
County councilor Peter Boyles displays a plaque about the Murray quintuplets, born in Hillside, Pictou County in 1880. - Kevin Adshade

Born in Hillside in 1880, plaque honouring their legacy unveiled Saturday

PICTOU – They were a little-known part of Pictou County history.

But not anymore.

A plaque detailing the brief lives of quintuplets born in Hillside, Pictou County almost 140 years ago will make sure of that. The plaque was unveiled Feb. 2 at the Pictou County municipal office where it will remain for public viewing.

The three girls and two boys were born to Adam and Maria (Rankin) Murray of Little Egypt Road in Hillside, N.S., on Feb. 15, 1880. The tiny quintuplets all died within days of their birth. Newspaper articles documented the historic birth and records indicate their arrival caused a huge stir in the small, rural community with people coming for miles to see the babies.

Remembering history.
Remembering history.

“It was a pretty big thing, and yet most people in this county aren’t aware they are a part of our history,” Warden Robert Parker said during the brief ceremony, held in council chambers.

“It’s so important that we remember our history. It was where we came from, and what people went through to get to where we are today. It’s part of who we are as a county.”

Coun. Peter Boyles, whose district includes Hillside, brought the original motion to council. Close to 40 descendants of the quintuplets came from as far away as Cape Breton to attend the ceremony.

One of those was Lori McKay, a distant relative of the quintuplets now living in Halifax. 

A former newspaper reporter, McKay is writing a book about the quintuplets. “My grandmother always talked about the quintuplets, because her grandmother helped deliver them,” said McKay, who grew up in Linacy.

“I’ve always been interested in writing a book about them. It’s hard, because it was 139 years ago and there was so little recorded about the birth.”

She doesn’t know when the book will be complete, but encourages anyone who might have information on the quintuplets or even information regarding the Little Egypt area during the 1880s, to reach her via email at: loriannemckay35@hotmail.com.

Local historians Clyde MacDonald and Philip MacKenzie presented Peter Boyles with a plaque containing a photograph of the five infants which is to be hung in the anticipated new Hillside Community Centre when it is completed.

A plaque presented to the County by local historians Clyde MacDonald and Philip MacKenzie.
A plaque presented to the County by local historians Clyde MacDonald and Philip MacKenzie.

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