How A Dead Millionaire Drove Canada To A Baby-Making Race For His Fortune

Jan 26, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

When Charles Millar died childless in 1926, he bequeathed his fortune to whichever woman could bear the most children in a 10-year span. What followed was a baby boom the likes of which Canada had never seen.

Mrs. Arthur Hollis Timleck claimed to have given birth to nine children in a ten-year period in a bid to win Charles Millar’s fortune.

Relatively unknown until his death, it would be the last will and testament of Charles Vance Millar that propelled his name into infamy. An unusual clause in his will promised the bulk of his gargantuan estate to the woman who could birth the most babies in Toronto over the decade following his death.

What followed was an unprecedented baby boom now called the Great Stork Derby of Toronto.

Charles Vance Millar, An Eccentric Multi-Millionaire

Charles Vance Millar was born on June 28, 1854, in Aylmer, Ontario. He became a prominent lawyer and worked out of his downtown, Toronto-based firm.

Charles Vance Millar’s portrait taken by an unknown photographer sometime before 1926.

He was a notorious jokester and delighted in playing with people’s love of money. Millar would drop dollar bills on the sidewalk and hide in the bushes to watch people’s faces as they quickly stuffed the money into their pockets when they thought no one was looking.

He also told his friends that this pastime “was an education in human nature by itself.”

In 1926, after a successful career as a lawyer, racing stable owner, and president of a brewery, he died suddenly at his desk while in a meeting with a few associates. He was 73 and a bachelor with no immediate family to inherit his estate.

The facetious millionaire’s last will and testament were dripping in irony. For one thing, he left his stock in a brewery and an entire race track to a group of prohibitionist Protestant ministers and $500 to a housekeeper who was already dead.

He even bequeathed a holiday estate in Jamaica to three lawyers that hated each other on the condition that they all live there together.

Millar admitted that his will was “necessarily uncommon and capricious” and chastised himself for amassing more wealth than he could spend in his lifetime.

“What I do leave,” Millar wrote, “is proof of my folly in gathering and retaining more than I required in my lifetime.” But the most notable clause of the eccentric will would go on to transform the lives of all Toronto families, causing a decade-long media frenzy, and perversely give endless trouble to the very legal system that Millar had once been a part of. The bulk of Millar’s estate, the millionaire wrote, would be given “to the mother who has since my death given birth in Toronto to the greatest number of children.”

And So, The Great Toronto Stork Derby Begins

Mrs. Darrigo claimed to have had nine children since Oct. 31; 1926. This would have placed her among the leading entries in the derby.

Millar’s will stipulated specifically that 10 years after his death, his fortune — which turned out to equate to more than $10 million by today’s standards — would be given to the Toronto mother who had given birth to the most children according to the Canadian birth database. If there was a tie, the money would be divided among the mothers.

Some believed the stunt was all a prank to amuse Millar’s friends and to test the legal system. Others thought that it was a statement in support of contraception by “turning the spotlight on unbridled breeding” meant to “shame the government into legalizing birth control.”

Whatever Millar’s true motivation, it became an elaborate and much-watched social, mathematical, and biological experiment.

What ensued was a baby-making race, a so-called Baby or Stork Derby.

At first, the media called Millar’s now-public will a “freak” document. Nobody could believe it. But soon, newspapers around the country began to follow the story. The Toronto Daily Star even assigned a special reporter to the “great stork derby” who was responsible for chasing pregnant women around the city for exclusivity agreements. Soon, all of Canada (and the neighboring United States) was watching. Countless mothers with growing broods began to claim their place as contenders.

The Fruitful Contenders

When Millar died, he had no idea that his investments would pay off so well. He also had no idea that the Great Depression would hit in the thirties, making his estate a shining beacon of hope to overcrowded families fighting to survive.

As the years went by, 11 families officially competed in the Great Stork Derby.

The media went nuts in the days leading up to the 10-year deadline. New contenders were introduced until the very end and the world watched in suspense.

On Oct. 31, 1936, at 4:30 pm, exactly 10 years after Millar’s death, the contest was closed.

Some women tried to claim births that weren’t officially registered, as well as babies fathered by men that weren’t their husbands. Other questions arose: did stillbirths count? What about children born to unmarried mothers? Did those living in the area around Toronto qualify?

In the end, Judge William Edward Middleton, a man sympathetic to large families being himself the eldest of nine, made the final decision on a winner.

He declared a tie between Annie Katherine Smith, Kathleen Ellen Nagle, Lucy Alice Timleck, and Isabel Mary Maclean, each of who gave birth to nine children during the qualifying decade.

Timleck, Nagle, Smith, and MacLean all got about $125,000 each, which is around $2 million by today’s standards. Kenny and Clarke received smaller amounts as their stillborn, illegitimate, or unregistered children were not counted in their totals.

This amount was enough for the mothers to buy new houses and to pay for their children’s educations.

Legislative Aftermath

As a lawyer himself, Millar made sure to write the “stork derby” clause of his will so that it would withstand court challenges. But from the day his will was announced, it was nonetheless challenged from all directions.

Over the course of the 10 years following his death, it bounced from court to court.

Some accused the scheme of being against public policy. The Globe wrote that it was “encouraging the birth of children with no regard to their chances of life or welfare.”

Distant relatives of Millar suddenly materialized and tried to get their hands on his fortune, which they never did.

Meanwhile, the province of Ontario tried to redirect the money to the government.

Ultimately, the case made it through the Supreme Court of Canada and the clause was declared valid.

On May 31, 1938, the Ottawa Citizen reported that at long last, the great stork derby “sensation” had concluded and this “strange chapter in legal and obstetrical history” brought to a close.

Unrepentant teen with a long list of offences is why some parents shouldn't breed

Nov 25, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Ralph Wee Yi Kai, a 19-year-old Singaporean man, has pleaded guilty to eight charges on Nov. 25 during his plead guilty mention before District Judge May Mesenas.

The charges include consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure at the Singapore Zoo, and committing mischief by damaging property, reported CNA.

Another six charges will be considered during his sentencing.

Probation is "not realistic"

Wee pleaded guilty via video link from his place in remand, where he has been since Nov. 6.

The prosecution strongly objected to a probation suitability report, noting that Wee is "beyond the control of his parents, which renders probation unsuitable", according to CNA.

The prosecution asserted that probation "is not realistic" for Wee, based on his repeated offences and conduct in court.

They cited his "blatant disregard for rules", and urged for a reformative training suitability report instead.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Lee said Wee "has a tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol", which caused him to behave aggressively towards his parents.

He also "posed a risk" to them, which led him to be admitted to the Institute of Mental Health.

"Never expected it to come to this"

Wee's defence lawyer Shashi Nathan requested for the addition of a probation suitability report, according to CNA.

Shashi maintains that his family is able to supervise Wee, and added that his client "comes from a good family" who are "able to look after him".

He said that Wee was undergoing "a severe emotional crisis" when he committed his offences, and shared that the case has also affected Wee's family, especially after their home address was released to the press.

"While Ralph understands that what he did was wrong, he never expected it to come to this," said Shashi.

Difference between probation and reformative training

Wee was ordered to go though both assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report, reported Yahoo News.

Offenders who undergo probation will not have a criminal record, while reformative training, which provides a more structured environment, results in a criminal record.

What Wee's lawyer said

Wee's lawyer said his client acted out after breaking up with his girlfriend, 18, who was the one who filmed the video of Wee backflipping in the zoo.

The defence lawyer, Shashi, said Wee spiralled into an emotional crisis as a result of his break-up.

Wee is homeschooled.

The court was told Wee saw a video of a man riding a giraffe and decided to make a video in the rhino enclosure, Yahoo News reported.

The ex-girlfriend had filmed the act and posted it on her private Snapchat account.

Wee posted it on his public TikTok account and a police report was made by a zoo personnel within the same day.

Wee removed the video when he was told to do so by the police, but reposted it on Dec. 18, before being told to remove it again, claiming he thought the video had been made private when he reposted it.

Wee had also included a link in his Instagram account biography to directed to a page selling t-shirts with the words "rhino ralph".

But he denied creating the merchandise profile.

He later removed the link.

Wee will return to court on Dec. 20 for his sentencing.

Timeline of events with updated details

Oct. 9, 2020, 2:40am: Allegedly committed an act of vandalism by hitting an information panel at a bus stop in Sixth Avenue, off Bukit Timah Road, causing S$900 in damage.

Allegedly caused damage to two cars -- S$2,800 to a Mercedes-Benz and more than S$1,600 to a BMW -- in nearby Sixth Crescent.

A taxi driver passing by reported him to the police, as Wee was standing in the middle of the road with a beer bottle in hand.

Dec. 16, 2020: Wee was placed on compulsory supervision for 60 months from Dec. 16. He was required to present himself for urine tests on each Tuesday and Thursday, but failed to turn up on four occasions.

He was placed on e-tagging during this period of time, after having been charged for his earlier offences.

He had to stay at home from 10pm to 6am as part of his bail conditions.

Dec. 17, 2020, 2.40pm: Accused of trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure and taking a video.

Dec. 18, 2020: Reposted zoo video, despite taking it down earlier after being told to do so by the police. Told to remove video again.

Dec. 24, 2020: Accused of abusing a frog, which subsequently died, by hitting a ball against it on a foosball table, causing "unnecessary pain and suffering".

The incident allegedly took place at a Sentosa Cove property.

July 2021: First hauled to court and charged with two counts of mischief, as well as one count each of vandalism and criminal trespass.

Bail was then set at S$15,000.

Aug. 6, 2021: Allegedly consumed cannabis while out on bail. Arrested at his residence and two urine samples obtained tested positive for weed. S$15,000 bail revoked.

Sep. 14, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-vaporiser and six e-cigarette pods at a ward in the Institute of Mental Health.

Three police officers showed up at IMH, where Wee was warded, to arrest him for failing to attend court.

He was admitted to IMH due to his drug and alcohol abuse, as had acted aggressively towards his parents when they demanded the drugs from him.

He was warded in IMH due to the risk he posed to his parents.

Oct. 13, 2021: Charged with one count of drug consumption while still in remand.

Bail raised to S$20,000 and Wee was released.

While out on second bail, Wee committed a string of offences, including cutting his electronic tag, according to ST, as well as not reporting for his urine tests on a few occasions, CNA reported.

The prosecution has called for an urgent bail review hearing to have Wee's second bail revoked for the alleged fresh offences.

Oct. 26, 2021: Allegedly cut a S$100 GPS ankle tag at an address on Leedon Road at about 12:10am.

Prior to this act, Wee was upset at his father, who had asked Wee to sleep early since he had to report for his urine test in the morning.

After arguing with his father, Wee decided to leave the house, and used pliers to cut off his e-tag before cycling to his friend’s house.

Upon discovering that Wee was missing, his father called the police.

The e-tag, worth S$100, was damaged and could no longer be used.

It was found in Wee’s house.

Oct. 28, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-cigarette pod at the Leedon Road address.

Nov. 5, 2021: Warrant of arrest issued, as Wee could not wake up to attend court.

Nov. 6, 2021: Wee arrested.

Nov. 12, 2021: Slapped with four additional charges.

Nov. 25, 2021: Pleaded guilty to consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into a rhino enclosure, and committing mischief by damaging property belonging to others.

Ordered to go though assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report.