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Charles Vance Millar and The Great Stork Derby
February 4, 2010 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Charles Vance Millar was a Canadian lawyer and financier with a love of pranks and practical jokes. His greatest and final prank was his last will and testament.
This Will is necessarily uncommon and capricious because I have no dependents or near relations and no duty rests upon me to leave any property at my death and what I do leave is proof of my folly in gathering and retaining more than I required in my lifetime.
Bequests included joint tenancy of his vacation home to three men who hated each other, $700,000 worth of O'Keefe Brewery stock to seven prominent ministers and temperance advocates, $25,000 worth of Ontario Jockey Club stock to anti-horse racing advocates and strangest of all, ten years after his death the remainder of his estate was to be liquidated and given to the woman who gave birth to the most children in that time. This sparked a fair amount of litigation and The Great Stork Derby.
posted by signalnine (24 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Do you maybe have a link to more info about the will? Please?
posted by mudpuppie at 10:30 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's hilarious, I had never heard of this, thanks.
posted by dabitch at 10:32 AM on February 4, 2010


The Archives of Ontario apparently have the original will. Unfortunately their website only shows one complete page. Googling for some characteristic phrases from the will doesn't turn up any results. I don't know if the full text of the will is online anywhere easily accessible, which is unfortunate.
posted by jedicus at 10:32 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, this will is uncommon and capricious.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:33 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a little hard to find free news archives with contemporary coverage of the will. Here's an article from November 19, 1936 in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
posted by jedicus at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brilliant. I'm planning on leaving a will that includes a quest.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:41 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome. This is just the kind of character I'd expect to hear about from Paul Collins.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:42 AM on February 4, 2010


There are also a couple of newspaper articles after the fact with some information from someone who wrote a book about the Stork Derby. The Montreal Gazette - Dec 9, 1981 and Ottawa Citizen - Dec 14, 1981
posted by signalnine at 10:45 AM on February 4, 2010


No, this will is uncommon and capricious.

wow, I only knew the Frantics from the original "Boot To The Head" sketch. I had no idea they'd stuck the joke in other sketches.
posted by shmegegge at 10:54 AM on February 4, 2010


Time magazine article "Birth Race" from Dec. 20 1926:
Last week, after diligent investigation, this will was pronounced genuine. Hygienists shuddered at the probable results of a ten-year birth race in Ontario. What if it be won by two mental defectives, a class notoriously prolific? How many immigrants will come chasing the prize?
posted by XMLicious at 11:07 AM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


FUCK YEAH, CHAOTIC NEUTRAL
posted by Greg Nog at 11:16 AM on February 4, 2010 [30 favorites]


...and one for Jenny and the wimp.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:30 AM on February 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Triumph of the Will.
posted by mazola at 11:34 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


joint tenancy of his vacation home to three men who hated each other

I think this bit is a stroke of genius - way funnier than the Stork Derby.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:59 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if one of those three men was named Bernie..
posted by mannequito at 12:20 PM on February 4, 2010


What a sad, misanthropic, nihilist asshole.
posted by killdevil at 12:26 PM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


What a sad, misanthropic, nihilist asshole.

I agree. If he were still alive, I'd pony up the $5 myself just to get him into MetaFilter.
posted by rokusan at 12:40 PM on February 4, 2010 [28 favorites]


FUCK YEAH, CHAOTIC NEUTRAL

You kidding? Using a highly nuanced legal document to sew discord amongst your enemies and spread social strife among struggling mothers, all to satisfy one's own imp of the perverse? Lawful Evil with a bullet.

Imps, perverse or otherwise, are also lawful evil
posted by FatherDagon at 12:42 PM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of a story by Ring Lardner called "Haircut" about a local character named Jim who played incredible cruel practical jokes that a few small-minded yokels (like the narrator) thought were funny.

Not that this guy's jokes were incredibly cruel, but they aren't the reflection of a kind-hearted man, to say the least. The Stork Club stunt...well, playing God with the lives of a bunch of women and children because you don't like birth control...pretty dubious ethics there.
posted by kozad at 1:05 PM on February 4, 2010


playing God with the lives of a bunch of women and children because you don't like birth control

I know! It's astonishing that less than a hundred years ago women were legally forced into pregnancy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:31 PM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well it sounds like he did like birth control, or at least not dislike it, if I'm reading this right:
It was speculated that Millar prepared this clause in his will as a means to discredit indiscriminate births and prohibitions against birth control.[17]
posted by condour75 at 2:12 PM on February 4, 2010


It is very possible that some of the descendants of the four winners of The Stork Derby (Annie Katherine Smith, Kathleen Ellen Nagle, Lucy Alice Timleck and Isabel Mary Maclean) are still alive. The Snopes article states that each of these families received $125,000 (a fortune back then) and used it to make sure that the education of each child was provided for. And this article has a bit more information about those four winners:

Of the four winners, two of the women had husbands who were unemployed and their families were on welfare. The other two had husbands who worked steadily, but at low paying jobs.

A quick Google search isn't turning up information about any of the descendants of the Stork Derby or how their lives turned out due to this windfall. But I would love to know how they did.

There is an obit mentioning a Kathleen E. Nagle, president of Wolverine Flexographic Mfg. who died in 2002 at age 97. That would be in the right time frame for the contest. Lucy Timleck's descendants discuss her here and on Facebook. Two books edited by an Isabel Mary Maclean were published in the 1950's, but is it Story Club Isabel or a daughter? Not sure.
posted by jeanmari at 7:21 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if this guy read any Harry Stephen Keeler stories, or if Keeler had been inspired by his story?
posted by JHarris at 8:22 PM on February 4, 2010


I think there's a Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg quality to this story. No one has to "compete" in The Stork Derby. And no one really needed to go along with the terms of this will. Unless they wanted the money.
posted by SPrintF at 6:12 PM on February 5, 2010


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