A millionaire with no heirs left his fortune to families who won a whimsical contest: here's what he devised

By Jurassic JennMay 5, 2024 14:39 PMCuriosity
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A millionaire with no heirs left his fortune to faA millionaire with no heirs left his fortune to families who won a whimsical contestmilies who won a whimsical contest
A millionaire with no heirs left his fortune to faA millionaire with no heirs left his fortune to families who won a whimsical contestmilies who won a whimsical contest. Source: www.thetimes.co.uk

Charles Vance Millar, a wealthy Canadian lawyer known for his love of pranks, left an unforgettable mark on history with his latest prank.

According to SSPDaily, Millar, who died at the age of 73 on Halloween 1926, devised a social experiment in his will.

With no immediate heirs or close relatives to inherit his considerable fortune, which amounted to over $10 million in today's Canadian currency, he bequeathed most of his wealth to the Toronto family that could produce the most children within ten years of his death.

While Millar may have thought his idea was brilliant, he likely did not consider the impact on the families who did not benefit or the looming Great Depression. His audacious challenge created a frenzy of excitement among Toronto families, especially as the Great Depression threw many into financial difficulty.

Local newspapers dubbed the competition the "stork race," and it quickly became a topic of widespread fascination. Families strategized on how to increase their fertility in the face of the economic downturn and the limited medical knowledge of the time.

Getting pregnant can be challenging, especially for young mothers. Jane Frederick, medical director of HRC Fertility, a clinic in Orange County, California, told FiveThirtyEight that the chances of conceiving again depend on "whether she breastfeeds and how much time her uterus is given to recover."

In 1932, four years before the end of the ten-year term, the Ontario government attempted to revoke the will and transfer the money to the University of Toronto. However, due to a significant public outcry, with the Toronto Daily Star denouncing the government's actions as "communism in its rawest form," the government eventually withdrew its demand.

Over the years, the race turned into a fiercely competitive contest, with many families vying for Millar's wealth by having numerous children. Eventually, more than two dozen families in Toronto had at least eight children in a decade.

But the competition also had a dark side — some families lived in poverty, and some babies tragically died.

Legal disputes arose over the interpretation of Millar's will and the eligibility of the applicants for the prize. When it came time to distribute Millar's wealth, only a handful of families were selected, and some mothers with more than nine children were still denied a share.

Despite attempts to challenge the legality of the competition, the courts ultimately upheld Millar's eccentric will.

In the end, six families received a portion of the estate, while others received much smaller amounts than Millar had promised.

The aftermath of the Stork Race left a lasting impact, highlighting the intricacies of wealth, fertility, and social dynamics in early 20th-century Canada.

Although Millar's original idea was humorous, his unconventional inheritance scheme had far-reaching consequences.

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