09/02/2011 12:12 EDT | Updated 11/02/2011 05:12 EDT

Diefenbaker Museum Lacks DNA To Test Man's Claim Of Family Ties To Former PM


TORONTO - A museum in Saskatchewan has no items useful for DNA testing a man's claim to be the only child of former prime minister John Diefenbaker, its director said Friday.

In an interview from Saskatoon, Michael Atkinson said the Diefenbaker Canada Centre would like to help John George Dryden in his quest to determine if the former leader was his dad.

"If we had found a treasure trove of Mr. Diefenbaker's DNA, then we would have shared it," Atkinson said from Saskatoon.

"(But) we cannot find enough traces of hair or other kinds of material that we could feel satisfied in sharing with other people."

Atkinson said there was "hardly anything" that might have been of use for DNA tests.

In addition, he said, the museum took possession of the items three decades ago and there was no way to be certain any material that could be tested did in fact belong to Diefenbaker, who died in 1979.

Dryden, 42, of Toronto, believes his mother Mary Lou Dryden had an affair with Diefenbaker in late 1967 or early 1968, resulting in his conception.

Mary Lou Dryden was a known confidante of Canada's 13th prime minister, who governed from 1959 until 1963.

Diefenbaker is not known to have had any children.

Dryden, who goes by the name George, does bear a startling resemblance to "the Chief," and says there were longtime family whispers about his paternity that he only discovered late last year.

His paternity quest gathered fuel in late June when DNA tests determined the man he had always assumed to be his father was in fact not a biological relative.

Dryden said he was "very disappointed" the museum was unable to help him, adding he and his lawyer were pondering their next steps.

Atkinson called the request for testable material "unusual."

While the centre took no position on whether Dryden is in fact Diefenbaker's son, Atkinson said he was sympathetic to Dryden's wish to sort out his paternity.

"Unfortunately we simply cannot find any of the DNA material that Mr. Dryden and his lawyer are looking for," Atkinson said.

"I'm sure it is disappointing (for them)."

Lawyer Stephen Edell said the museum's inability to help would not end Dryden's attempt at finding out who his father was, and whether he is in fact related to Diefenbaker.

"Like the Maginot line (in the Second World War): if you cannot go through it, you find a way to go around it," Edell said.