Knox the Fox is not on a vacation with friends this week, but instead I caught him in my childhood rocker with a book of amazing but true stories. I wonder how many have ever heard this one. I thought I had read the biggest story of conception competition when Leah and Rachel contended to outdo each other in the tents of Paddan Aram of the Old Testament.
The race to have the most babies in 1500 BCE was outdone by the Toronto Stork Derby in 1936. That was the year Charles Millar, a wealthy lawyer and practical joker died without an heir, but with several interesting caveats to his will. For one, he left the bulk of his inheritance to the woman who gave birth to the most babies in Toronto in the following 10 years.
Eleven families competed for the fortune becoming celebrities in the town as the newspapers followed the births throughout the next decade. In the end, 4 women tied with each having nine children in the ensuing ten years, splitting the inheritance and receiving $125,000 a piece. Imagine the population increase during those years. Just for the record, $125,000 in 1936 is equivalent to $2,669,000 in 2023 dollars so they really did receive quite a prize.
Other unusual bequests in Millar’s will went to three other groups. He left a Jamaican vacation home to three men who detested each other under the condition they live on the estate together indefinitely. A group of teatotalling Protestant ministers were left brewery stocks only if they participated in its operations and collected its dividends. The final odd bequest went to a group of anti-horse-racing advocates who received jockey club stocks.
The will was contested through the court system until the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the validity of all its clauses. Can you imagine how fun this man would have been to know in person?
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