Historical Head-Scratchers: Discover These Bizarre Stories From The Past

By Jack Ripley | January 22, 2024

Toronto’s Great Stork Derby of the 1930s Challenges Mothers in a Unique Baby-Making Contest

Today we're taking a look at 20 historical events so bizarre, weird, and wild that many of them are beyond belief. The following records illustrate a collection of lesser-known, often whimsical, and sometimes downright bewildering moments in time. Many on this list remain notably absent from the standard history texts.

Buckle up for a twisty ride through these frequently odd, totally unconventional, and downright strange historical accounts. These 20 peculiar narratives below are assured to unearth a truly elusive side of history.

 

 

test article image
Getty Images

In 1926, Toronto witnessed the beginning of one of the most bizarre contests in history, the Great Stork Derby. This extraordinary event sprang from the will of eccentric lawyer Charles Vance Millar, who left a strange provision in his will: a large portion of his estate would be awarded, after 10 years, to the woman who gave birth to the most children in that period. By the time the derby concluded in 1936, it had spurred a mini baby boom among participants in Toronto, resulting in a collective public fascination and scrutiny. The contest finally ended with five women splitting the inheritance. These participants gave birth to nine children, embedding the Great Stork Derby in the annals of Toronto's most peculiar historical footnotes.

The Hairy Panic Invasion Swallowed an Australian Town in 2016

test article image
Getty Images

In 2016, the small Australian town of Wangaratta, Victoria, found itself grappling with a peculiar natural crisis dubbed the "Hairy Panic." This was not a societal or economic disaster. It was, rather, an environmental incident caused by heaps of a fast-growing, tumbleweed-like grass known as Panicum effusum. These bushy clumps, with their hair-like texture, amassed in staggering volumes, engulfing homes, driveways, and cars in their path. This bizarre episode had residents shoveling and carting away the invasive fluff, which rose to the eaves in some areas. The cause? A combination of severe drought conditions. This allowed the panic grass to proliferate unchecked, while strong winds sent the fibrous vegetation rolling into the town. This hairy threat presented no direct danger, but it became a nagging inconvenience for locals. The Hairy Panic Invasion of 2016 marked a strange reminder of nature's unpredictable behavior and humankind's constant need to adapt to its whims.