The Great Stork Derby

Charles Vance Millar fathered no children of his own. But thanks to an unusual clause in his will, this wealthy Toronto lawyer brought 36 lives into the world and was known as the Stork Derby.The Stork Derby

Millar, a bachelor, died in 1926 after running up a flight of stairs. The 73-year-old had been known as a successful attorney and shrewd financier, but the reading of his will underscored his true passion in life: the practical joke.

His entire will was rife with pranks. He left a (previously sold) vacation home to a group of warring lawyers, and (nonexistent) brewery stock to temperance advocates.

And then there was the ninth clause of the document, which stipulated that Millar’s remaining estate — valued at around $500,000 — be left to the Toronto woman who gave birth to the highest number of children in the 10 years following his death.

The jackpot provoked a minor baby boom.

This was the ’30s, and families throughout the country were struggling to make ends meet. For many Toronto women, Millar’s estate seemed a legitimate solution to their Depression-era troubles. They bore child after child.

Meanwhile, the country’s top attorneys — Millar’s former colleagues, whose legs he may have been pulling one last time from six feet under — debated the legality of the will. The matter was even brought before the Supreme Court of Canada. But the document prevailed and the Stork Derby continued on.

In the end, four women split the purse. Alice Timleck, Kathleen Nagle, Annie Smith and Isobel MacLean had each given birth to nine children since 1926, and each received $125,000.

Millar’s intentions with the contest remain a puzzle. As he wrote in his will, “What I do leave is proof of my folly in gathering and retaining more than I required in my lifetime.”

Although he left behind no biological heirs, his legacy lives on through those 36 Stork Derby babies and his amusing story.

Nature’s Most Extreme Dads

Human fathers may complain about having it tough when they’re enlisted to change a diaper or bring a nap-deprived toddler to the supermarket. But some dads in the animal kingdom do the lion’s — or seahorse’s — share of the parenting. Today we bring you nature’s most extreme Dads.

Consider the male African bullfrog. These huge amphibians first watch over the fertilized eggs and then are responsible for babysitting the tadpoles — all 4,000 of them. If the young are stranded in a shallow pool, it’s this extreme Dad who uses his thunder thighs to dig a channel so the kids can escape to deeper water.Most Extreme Dads

In the tropical wetlands of Africa, Asia and elsewhere, the male jacana bird flies solo. After Mom lays the eggs, she leaves — to find a new breeding partner. Dad, meanwhile, incubates the eggs, teaches the chicks to find dinner, and will even carry an endangered baby under his wings, all while Mom remains absent.

The male emperor penguin is often a single parent, too, keeping an egg warm and going hungry for two long, cold Antarctic months while Mom’s away.

In Africa, the male lion may shirk his dad duties most of the time — he’s known for napping up to 20 hours a day — but when Mom’s out hunting, he guards the cubs and defends their territory. That thick mane around his neck is to protect against scratches during the vicious fights that can occur when a new male wants to join the family.

And then there’s the seahorse, where the father, not the mother, gets pregnant. These most extreme dads of this upright swimming species have a brood pouch, where the female deposits her eggs. Then, Dad gets to experience the miracles of weight gain, stretch marks, and labor. Within a few hours of giving birth, he’s ready to mate again.