The man who smiled from the grave.

(…read in spanish)
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Want to know what’s the most hilarious testament of the history? The last will of a rich man, mortgaged with his sense of humor. Charles Vance Millar, a Canadian lawyer and a vocational joker, decided to share his huge fortune in a unique way. A mansion divided between the three most faced lawyers of the country. Stocks of a racetrack to give to various detractors of the horse races… And, especially, the famous ‘birth rate’ contest proposed to the executor in the clause number 9.

Will of Charles Vance Millar, 1926. Link


In a recession time, marked by the Great Depression late the 20s, Mister Charles Vance Millar decided to award with most part of his fortune the Toronto women who have more children over a period of ten years after his death. The offer was, obviously, a bomb, and was focused to boost the birthrate in the worst crisis scenario. The award was about one million dollar (of that time) and guaranteed lifetime maintenance for various generations.

«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.» Will of Charles Vance Millar

Charles Vance Millar

Charles Vance Millar wasn’t a common lawyer. ‘Cum laude’ graduated in the University of Toronto; he stood out soon as an enthusiast student of the human behavior and the wicked limits of their fun. Always joking, he blocked himself in living with each others, just to die without issue. Everybody laughed with him but nobody could stand him, and he was aware of his funny life imprisonment.

Conditioned by his job, all of his jokes were based in the greed and the passion of the human being for money. His personal motto was ‘Every man has a price’, and was not strange meeting her hiding one dollar notes on the streets, just for watching the passerby’s surprise faces. He never improvised anything and his testament was a collection of tricks to avoid the Supreme Court of Canada canceling his eccentric last will for being against the public order.

The first laugh from beyond the grave was heard when the three lawyers noticed the legacy that Charles forced them to share. One of the clauses pointed that, if one of them dies (killed by one of their selves), the value of his part would go directly to the town’s charity.

One stock of the beer factory O’Keefe, which was multi owned by Charles, was given to every protestant minister of the Orange order in Toronto. We should point that the O’Keefe factory was in the management of catholic hands. Seven prominent Methodist and soberness defenders ministers were going to receive a stock valuated in 700.000 dollars and sharing the management of the factory with the most catholic part of the enterprise. Glup!

In the same way, three opponents of the games and horse races, moral supporters of the anti compulsive gambling community in Toronto, were going to receive stocks valuated in 25.000 dollars of the “Ontario Jockey Club”, a famous racetrack and bookmaker.


Clause number 9. : The great stork derby

» […] All the rest and residue of my property wheresoever situate I give, devise and bequeath unto my Executors and Trustees named below in Trust to convert into money as they deem advisable and invest all the money until the expiration of nine years from my death and then call in and convert it all into money and at the expiration of ten years from my death to give it and its accumulations to the Mother who has since my death given birth in Toronto to the greatest number of children as shown by the Registrations under the Vital Statistics Act. If one of more mothers have equal highest number of registrations under the said Act to divide the said moneys and accumulations equally between them.» Will of Charles Vance Millar

A typical recession family. Source


The media named this outrageous contest “The great stork derby” and they followed the event with an increasing interest. The contestants were identified by the newspapers, becoming celebrities very quickly. The problems began soon, motivated by the deliberate loophole that Charles left: abortions, illegitimate children, premature death, etc… The Supreme Court of Canada itself was forced to get into the game and answer all the doubts and problems.

Most of contestants were unemployed women with husbands without job, and, paradoxically, they had to be mortgaged for 10 years to go on with the “kids-on-demand” and their particular “family planning”. The percentage of abortions and extramarital adventures of this crazy contest led a lot of contestants – especially the non finalists – to situations of extreme poverty and need.

On October 31st of 1936, ten years since Charles Vance Millar’s death, the contest finished having a tie as result. Four women with nine children alive and “validated” by the Supreme Court: Anna Katherine Smith, Ellen Kathleen Nagle, Lucy Alice Timleck, e Isabel María MacClean received 125.000 dollars each one as reward. A special mention was made by the Court to two finalist women that reached the quantity of ten kids, but not “validated” because they did it using the easy way of promiscuity and some abortions. The court gave to Lillian Kenny y Pauline Mae Clarke 12.500 dollars, just for reaching the appeals round.

The last will of the great Charles Vance Millar was done.

Sources and links.

There is a creepy movie that tells, on its own, the story of the “Great Derby”. You can also find more information here, here, here and here.

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Thanks to @eddiedean for translating this post

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2 comentarios

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