The Great Stork Derby

Posted November 20, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Charles Vance Millar

From time to time, family history researchers may find an odd request in an ancestors will. These can range from requests for large sums of money to be given to the deceased’s pet to a unique request of being buried in a glass box.

Charles Vance Millar was a successful Canadian lawyer and financier, who loved jokes and pranks which played on people’s greed. On October 31, 1926, Millar died a bachelor at the age of 73. Known for his penchant for practical jokes, it was no surprise that Millar would extend his unusual sense of humor to his last wishes.

His unusual bequests:

  • Three lawyers known to despise each other were granted joint lifetime tenancy in Millar’s vacation home in Jamaica. Upon the death of the last of them, the proceeds of its sale would be distributed to the poor of the city.
  • Toronto Protestant ministers and temperance advocates were to receive stock for O’Keefe Brewery.
  • A judge and preacher, known for their staunch stance against racetrack gambling, were to receive shares in the Ontario Jockey Club.

Lastly, the most bizarre clause came at the end of his will. The remainder of his fortune would go to the woman who would give birth to the most children in the ten years immediately following his death.

And so began the Great Stork Derby.

The race produced great media attention as women from all over the country vied for the large prize. In the end, the race ended in a tie. The prize was shared between four Toronto women, who each had 9 children within the 10-year timeframe. Each mother received $125,000.


Kingsport Times, March 20, 1938 (click to zoom)

What strange requests have you found in your ancestors’ wills?

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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