A Will That Changed The Lives Of 54 Strangers

Charles Vance Millar was an attorney in Toronto, Canada from 1881 until he died in 1926.  Known for his sometimes wicked sense of humor he liked to leave $1 bills on the sidewalk and watch the expressions as people passed by and pocketed the cash.  Millar held to the philosophy that all men were greedy at their core and all had their ultimate price.

Never having married or had children of his own; he decided it would be fun to continue his pranks after he died.  His will became the avenue for his best jokes ever!

Valuable shares of the Ontario Jockey Club were divided between three men.  Two of the men were known for their views and outspoken opinions against gambling.  Millar thought it would be comical to put these men in a situation where they would have to decide between money and their morals.  The third man given shares had been long ago barred from the Club which Millar found to be a hilarious irony.

Having three friends who hated each other; Miller decided putting them together for extended periods of time would teach them to get along.  Therefore, he left a vacation home in Jamaica to the three men together.  At the time the last individual died, the will stated that the proceeds of the sale would be divided among the poor of Jamaica.

A number of other smaller gifts with unusual terms were also included in the will.  If you are wondering why this man’s story made it into my 31 Day Challenge of Good News & Good People; well, the largest financial gift was by far an act of generosity over joking.

Clause 9 of Millar’s will stated that the remainder of his accumulated wealth was to be invested for 10 years.  At the end of the 10 years the investments were to be liquidated and the funds given to the Canadian women who had given birth to the most children since the time of Millar’s death.  If more than one woman held the record; the funds were to be distributed evenly.  This became known in Canada as the Great Stork Derby

At the time of his death, Millar owned 100,000 share of stock in the Windsor/Detroit tunnel project.  By the time of his death his $100,000 estate had increased into one worth $750,000 due to the tunnel.  The women who were in the running for the inheritance became household names; celebrities of sorts. By the time the 10 years was up, four women had a cumulative total of 56 kids between them, however, only 32 could be counted since they were the ones born during the 10 years after Millar’s death.

The Great Stork Derby had ended in a four way tie.  Four different women each had 9 children during the ten year period stated in the will.  Two other women were each given $12,500 as a consolation prize of sorts.  One for having ten children, however, two were stillborn and the court found that to be relevant. The woman had ten children, however, she divorced her husband during that time and she was not married to the father of the last few of her children (which was a legal issue at the time).

Reportedly the families all wisely used the inherited funds by purchasing homes, cars, and education funds for the children.  All in all, Mr. Miller died a childless man who was able to impact the lives of 54 children during the Great Depression in a way their parents would have never been able.

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.


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