DNA leaves Diefenbaker Jr. riddle unsolved

Test results a disappointment for Toronto man


A Toronto man’s quest to determine whether he is the son of John Diefenbaker has hit a roadblock, as DNA tests failed to prove he is the offspring of Canada’s 13th prime minister.

The findings are a setback for George Dryden, who has been led to believe by family members that Diefenbaker is his biological father. But he said he’s not giving up.

“It’s more a frustration than anything,” Dryden said in an interview. “This DNA company we used is famous for getting DNA from dinosaur fossils and from lost tribes. But we’re going to take steps to follow other leads.”

Dryden, 43, had pinned his hopes to tests on samples from the Diefenbaker Canada Centre, a museum and educational centre in Saskatoon, Sask. which has a number of the late PM’s personal articles.

Testers from Warnex PRO-DNA took 10 samples from a variety of items at the centre, including hatbands, a wristwatch band and the stem of a pipe. In the end, though, only the handle of a clothes brush yielded high enough quality DNA for analysis.

Dryden tested negative against a sample of male DNA found there. But then things got complicated. The handle showed DNA from more than one person, so lab staff cannot be sure the sample in question came from Diefenbaker. In other words, they can’t say Dryden is not the former PM’s son.

All of which leaves George Dryden in limbo.

He had established in August through DNA testing that he is not the child of Gordon Dryden, the man George grew up believing was his father, who also happened to be the long-time treasurer of the Liberal Party of Canada.

And Diefenbaker was his only solid lead. Before marrying Gordon, Dryden’s mother Mary Lou was active in the Progressive Conservative Party and was seen at public functions at Diefenbaker’s side. Members of her family told George last year they’ve long suspected Diefenbaker is his father.

George Dryden's mother, Mary Lou, with John Diefenbaker. (National Film Board, CBC)

The result could also affect a civil suit George has launched against members of his own family, alleging that Gordon mistreated him and connived to keep family wealth out of his hands because he knew George was not his son.

In late November, a Superior Court of Ontario judge ruled the case cannot go ahead, but George has appealed.

Dryden says he will pursue other means of determining his parentage in the meantime, including gaining access to his mother so he can ask her once and for all who his father is.

Mary Lou is frail, and has been living at a long-term care facility in Toronto. But Gordon Dryden has power of attorney over her care, and has ordered staff to keep George away from her.

Dryden also hopes to persuade living relatives of the late PM to consent to tests. He has even heard there are other people who suspect Diefenbaker may have fathered them, and will try to make contact with them, too.

As it stands, Diefenbaker has no confirmed offspring. He had no children by either of his two wives, and died in 1979.


DNA leaves Diefenbaker Jr. riddle unsolved

    • Arnold gets blamed for everything.

  1. Well, they look the same.

  2. He may not know who his father is but I bet he has a job.

    • What on Earth has that got to do with the price of fish?

  3. This is sad….All the guy wants to know is who is his father. Mom won’t tell him because she is more concerned that she will look like “a hussy” even though its been proven his Dad is not his real Dad! His Step Father has ordered that he is not allowed contact with his own Mother! What the hell kind of people are they? I think it makes her look worse and if it turns out Diefenbaker is his father and I would say it looking like he very well might be…Cough cough this would be a Maury Pauvich no brainer based on picture ….Then I think it makes Diefenbaker look really bad why would the guy deny his own son? Well, I guess Maury show demonstates that many men do. When they find out there not they kick them out of the will! Why would any of Diefenbaker’s descentants deny him a simple swab of the mouth to find out if this is true or not? What kind of people are they? Pretty sad when a guy has to go to a museum to find out who his Dad was..There should be laws in this country that don’t allow someone to deny another the ability to establish paternity!

    • Diefenbaker has no (known) descendents. I think you meant his relatives.
      As for why they won’t cooperate, they probably want this negative publicity to go away. I rather agree with them. Why is Macleans gives top billing for several days to a story which is based on speculation? If the man is proved to be Diefenbaker’s son, then it would be front page news. Until then, it seems to be unfairly maligning the character of a man who is dead and cannot defend himself.

      • Why are the claims malignant? What’s to defend? Who in this day and age should care about the potential for a man, long dead, siring a son out of wedlock decades ago? Unless this gentleman is looking for some kind of recompense or to scam something, I just don’t see the big issue revolving around him wanting to get confirmation of what appears on the surface, to be a reasonable conclusion as to who his biological father is.

        • To say that he had a child out of wedlock is to say that he broke his marriage vows to his wife, which is indicative of a major character flaw. That’s why I think the speculation is damaging to his reupation.

  4. There ought to be a law that forces an interview with Mrs. Dryden to see if she would be prepared to answer this important question … and kicks Gordon Dryden’s backside.

    • PS.  I wonder if Gordon has had a DNA test?

  5. I have seen this before from the women of that time. If she fathered a child with another man,regardless of who it is, stand up and tell the truth. Leaving a child without advising them of the proper parents is disgusting, selfish and inhumane.

    • Isn’t fathering a child man’s work?

  6. He looks nothing like him.  His cheeks are more pudgy, his nose is more bulbous, his eyes slant down towards the outside of his face (Dief’s are more level), the top of his head is narrower and the mouth is completely different.  I would have to say the only thing he has that resembles Dief are the ears.  Anyways, it’s not like looks mean much, and now with this DNA result, he should give up and find a better hobby.

    • He looks a lot like Diefenbaker.  Especially the mouth and the cleft chin.  And he’s also got that rare “V” shaped wrinkle in his forehead.  The wrinkle doesn’t show on the Diefenbaker picture but you can see it in other pictures.  The hair and hairline are also similar.  Added to this is the fact that there’s a place and time.  It doesn’t matter that Dief as 73.  Heck, didn’t Trudeu also sere a child at age 73?  If the liberals can do it…

  7. This is so sad….What kind of people are they? Pretty sad when a guy has to go to a museum to find out who his Dad was..There should be laws in this country that don’t allow someone to deny another the ability to establish paternity!


Sign in to comment.