The Toronto man, who has been searching for months for evidence that he is the son of John Diefenbaker, revealed Wednesday a dirty Q-Tip has finally given him the proof he needs.
Unable to find DNA from belongings of the former prime minister in a museum, Dryden spent the summer tracking down some of Diefenbaker's distant cousins in southern Ontario.
When they all refused to give him samples of their DNA, he decided to hire a private investigator.
The sleuth collected a Q-Tip, covered with sticky ear wax, after it had been tossed away by one of the relatives, Dryden said.
He says he then had it tested against his own DNA and it revealed a genetic link to the Diefenbaker family.
The sample is not enough to prove conclusively he's the former prime minister's son, but Dryden said it shows he's a Diefenbaker by blood and that's all the proof he needs.
"I feel like I've done enough to prove it," Dryden said, adding he'll next be changing his last name to mark the discovery.
"We know scientifically I'm not a Dryden, right. And we know scientifically I am a Diefenbaker. So I think it only makes sense if I do change it."
The 43-year-old businessman, who bears a strong resemblance to the former Conservative leader, claims his mother had an affair with Diefenbaker in the 1960s. Diefenbaker died in 1979.
Mary Lou Dryden was a known confidante of the prime minister and there were longtime family whispers about the father of her child. George Dryden said late last year he found out the man he believed was his dad was not his biological father.
So began his paternity quest, starting with the Diefenbaker Canada Centre in Saskatoon.
The museum selected several items owned by Diefenbaker — hats, a watch band and his pipe — and allowed a company hired by Dryden to test them for his DNA. But the tests were not conclusive. They had been handled by too many people.
Dryden said he then turned to a genealogist. The prime minister and his brother had no known children, but the researcher found distant relatives who had changed their name to Diefenbacher and settled around Kitchener, Ont.
She gave Dryden a list of two dozen male relatives — third and fourth cousins of Diefenbaker. Dryden said he contacted them all and only two of them agreed to hand over samples of their saliva. But within hours, they changed their minds.
"I had family members of them call me back and say 'No. Don't come. We're not interested. Please stay away from us. We have no interest in helping you.'"
Dryden said the only option he had left was to hire a private investigator, so he contacted an agency in Toronto experienced in paternity cases. "They said 'Ya. No problem. Let's go get you a DNA sample.'"
The lead investigator, a former police officer named Al Duncan, refused to comment on his work on the case. But Dryden said it was all legit.
The agency initially followed one Diefenbaker relative leaving a Tim Hortons, hoping he would throw away his empty coffee cup, said Dryden. The team later lost him in a car chase on the busy Highway 401.
Dryden said the agency tried another relative and struck gold with the Q-Tip. He's not sure if the find involved going through the relative's garbage. "It was what they call a discarded, discreet sample. They got it discreetly and they got it legally."
Dryden also isn't naming the relative it came from.
He said a Toronto company called Accu-Metrics tested the Q-Tip and compared it with two swabs swiped inside his own mouth. The results show he's a distant relative.
Dryden said it makes sense that if Diefenbaker was a distant family member, he would be too.
"That's the closest that's out there. There's nothing closer left to test."
Last week, the Diefenbaker Centre discovered a lock of child's hair labelled as belonging to Diefenbaker. It was discovered during renovations.
The museum offered a piece of it to Dryden for testing but he said there was no point. Because the hair has no roots, it likely has no DNA, he said.
Dryden said his mission is now over. And proving Diefenbaker is his dad is not about getting any money. There is no estate or inheritance to claim, he said.
"The first thing I wanted to do was confirm he was my father which, as far as I'm concerned, I have done. And whatever comes next comes next."
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