Great Stork Derby
The Great Stork Derby was a contest heldduring the period from 1926 to 1936, in which women residing Toronto, Canada, competed to produce the most babies in order to qualify for an unusual bequest in a will.
The race was the product of a scheme by Charles Vance Millar, a Toronto lawyer, financier, and practical joker, who bequeathed the residue of his significant estate to the woman in Toronto who could produce the most children in the decade following his death. A decision of the Supreme Court of Canada interpreted the relevant clause, and held that it was valid. The winning mothers were Annie Katherine Smith, Kathleen Ellen Nagle, Lucy Alice Timleck and Isabel Mary Maclean. Each of them received $125,000 for their nine children. Two others each received $12,500 out of court: Lillian Kenny (ten children, but two stillborn) and Pauline Mae Clarke (ten children - five sets of twins, but several were children of a father to whom she was not married, which at that time was considered legally relevant). Some of the estate was also paid to the Toronto Welfare Department.
In popular culture
The Canadian 2002 TV movie The Stork Derby, depicted the stories of Lillian Kenny, Pauline Mae Clarke and Grace Bagnato. Bagnato was disqualified by the court for being married to an illegal Italian immigrant, in addition to not being able to show birth registration documents for several of her children (23 children total – 12 living, 9 born in the duration of the ten years that the contest lasted). The film was based upon Elizabeth Wilton’s book Bearing The Burden: The Great Toronto Stork Derby 1926–1938.
- Orkin, Mark M. Millar, Charles Vance, The Canadian Encyclopedia online. Retrieved 2009-04-17;