Great Stork Derby

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Charles Vance Millar, whose will sparked the Great Stork Derby

The Great Stork Derby was a contest held from 1926 to 1936, in which women residing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, competed to produce the most babies in order to qualify for an unusual bequest in a will.[1] It is one of many unusual bequests listed in the will, along with giving a vacation home in Jamaica to a group of three men who detested each other under the condition that they live in the estate together indefinitely, brewery stocks to a group of prominent teetotal Protestant ministers if they participated in its operations and collected its dividends, and jockey club stocks to a group of anti-horse-racing advocates.

The race was the product of a scheme by Charles Vance Millar (1853–1926), 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.[2] Litigation over the validity of the will was resolved when the Supreme Court of Canada held that the clause was valid.[3] The Court further held that the clause did not include illegitimate children.[3]

Eleven families competed in the "baby race."[4] Seven of them were disqualified,[4] but eventually Judge William Edward Middleton ruled in favour of four mothers[4][5] (Annie Katherine Smith, Kathleen Ellen Nagle, Lucy Alice Timleck[6] and Isabel Mary Maclean) who each received $100,000 for their nine children. Two others each received $12,500 out of court in exchange for abandoning pending appeals:[5] Lillian Kenny and Pauline Mae Clarke.

In popular culture[edit]

The Canadian 2002 TV movie The Stork Derby, depicted the stories of Lillian Kenny, Pauline Mae Clarke and Grace Bagnato and starred Megan Follows. The film was based upon Elizabeth Wilton's book Bearing The Burden: The Great Toronto Stork Derby 1926–1938.

In 2016, Toronto's Muddy York Brewing Company produced a Stork Derby Stout as a nod to the unusual event.


  1. ^ Goldenberg, David (December 11, 2015). "How A Dead Millionaire Convinced Dozens of Women To Have As Many Babies As Possible". FiveThirtyEight Science. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  2. ^ Orkin, Mark M. Millar, Charles Vance, The Canadian Encyclopedia online. Retrieved April 17, 2009;
  3. ^ a b In Re Estate of Charles Millar (1937),  [1938] 1 D.L.R.  65 (Supreme Court of Canada)
  4. ^ a b c Schwartz, Susan (December 9, 1981). "Prim Toronto was site of baby race". The Gazette. Montreal.
  5. ^ a b "Last of 'Stork Derby'?". Ottawa Citizen. May 31, 1938.
  6. ^ "BIG FAMILY, BIG PRIZE". Reuters. January 17, 2002 – via Philippine Daily Inquirer.

External links[edit]