com-pas-sion. n. pity aroused by the distress of others, with the
FALKLAND, BC — He’s a father to three — Ken, the Hall of Fame
the Montreal Canadiens, hockey historian, and now president of the NHL
Toronto Maple Leafs, Dave, a former standout goalie with the Buffalo
Sabres, and daughter, Judy, a public health nurse.
However, Murray Dryden is also a grandfather to thousands of the
children as the head of the all-volunteer Sleeping Children Around the
World (SCAW) organization.
In the Dirty 30s, to survive, Dryden barnstormed the barren
wastes of Saskatchewan, selling silk stockings door to door on
That’s when he learned, first-hand, what it was like to go without a
Even in those days, he was an optimist.
From his 1930 diary, Dryden wrote: “June 23-28. Put in a terrible
Made less than $10. Slept on the office floor the last couple of nights
ate only when in dire need. Looks like a tough Dominion Day for me, but
there is always a better day coming.”
There were other lonely days in the ’30s when he dreamed of striking
rich, but all he could record was: “Christmas Day. All alone. How I miss
the family. Tired of sitting in, so went to the Grand and saw Jack Oakie
Sea Legs. Peculiar I didn’t get my parcel from home. Spent evening
By 1932, Dryden had started in business — Dryden Specialty Company
Hamilton, Ontario — concentrating on Ever Bloom, a tonic for plants.
His faith and his drive would take a beating, but he didn’t bend even
Dryden had to write in his June 8, 1932 diary: “Two apples for noon
and tried to sell old magazines for my supper.”
By June 10, after he had given his landlady his last quarter, the
from Domain, Manitoba had no other resort but to sleep at the Salvation
It was a long way to being the Canadian legend for charity that he
today, for while he did delivery work in the Howdy Beverage warehouse,
rounded up a couple of newspapers and slept on the mountainside.
He had watched the Rawleigh and Watkins salesmen pester his farm
he had pledged “I do not want to ever be a salesman.”
However, the jobs were scarce and the selling of such cosmetic
Hair Kair, Rawson Shampoo, Whizbang After-Shave Lotion and Magic Mask
seemed like a fine alternative to starving.
In 1937, he met his beloved Margaret in Hamilton. On their first date
February 18, he and his future wife attended a hockey game at Toronto’s
Leaf Gardens. Murray’s cousin, Syl Apps, starred that night. Later,
would become deeply involved with a number of minor-league baseball and
hockey teams in the ’50s.
Of course, after the Drydens married in 1938, he spent four years in
YMCA’s auxiliary services, including 1 1/2 years overseas. After
24 years with five companies as a manufacturer’s agent, he retired in
However, it was only the beginning of his mission in life.
The image of a child lying asleep that he had stumbled over in 1970
filthy streets of Pakistan seemed to be ingrained in his heart.
While in his mid-forties, Murray Dryden, besides raising the likes of
Dave and Judy, decided to find a new challenge — Christmas tree
It became lucrative.
Older brother, Dave, became Ken’s hero, so it was obvious the Hall of
would follow in Dave’s goalie skates. The eldest became a regular with
Chicago Black Hawks in 1965-66, and then on to Buffalo and Edmonton
of the defunct World Hockey Association.
The “kid” brother, Ken, attended Cornell and earned a law degree and
the 1970-71 playoffs against the mighty Boston Bruins, he replaced Rogie
Vachon in the Montreal nets and the rest is history with his spectacular
performance and unorthodox style in the 1972 Canada-Soviet Union
Sister Judy has become a successful health care nurse.
Ken, Dave and Judy have the marks of class, just like their father
mother, who died in September 1985. Murray Dryden married Theda in
The retirement years were particularly special for Murray and
in 1970 they began SCAW and have raised more than $10.5 million to
bedkits for more than 440,000 children in such underdeveloped countries
Ecuador, Honduras, Colombia, Panama, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, and
His hobby of photographing sleeping children spurred the retirement
project. That’s when he and Margaret decided to provide bedkits to 50
homeless kids in India.
After his 15th trip around the world in 1987, a rigorous December
the Himalayas, followed by distribution trips to Colombia, Honduras and
Ecuador, he wrote: “I know the difference between being poor in Canada
being poor in Bangladesh. Remember that they have no welfare system, no
Medicare, and very few charitable organizations in these countries. It
when there is so little hope for people, such as those people in the
developing countries, that we must work to improve conditions. The
reason, of course, is that they, too, are God’s children.”
What’s unique about the organization is that it’s 100 per cent
All bedkits are made in the country where they are distributed, which
results in: elimination of transportation costs; provision of materials
labor at minimal cost; provision of employment for families in the
assistance to the local economy and the country as a whole.
Working out of Murray Dryden’s modest home in the Toronto area,
pay their own fare and take the donations around the world.
Dryden believes it’s a rewarding projects for churches, schools,
organizations or families.
However, his motto still is: “Every child needs a place to sleep.”
Although I’d met both Ken and Dave during my tour as a sportswriter,
didn’t meet the father until 1995.
After donating monies for bedkits, I didn’t expect the great surprise
receiving photos of Central American kids smiling broadly and clutching
their beds. Those photos are still my greatest treasures.
So next time, you look up “compassion” in the dictionary, don’t be
surprised to see a picture of 87-year-old Murray Dryden next to the
definition. Besides being one of the world’s great humanitarians, he has
authored two books, “With God Nothing Is Impossible,” and “For the Love
His Children,” and he co-authored a bestseller with the Toronto Sun’s
Hunt, called: “Playing the Shots at Both Ends.”
For more details, write Sleeping Children Around the World, 28
Crescent, Islington, Ontario, Canada M9A 3A5. Phone: (416) 231-1841.