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Dryden, Murray.

Markham (Ont.), Fitzhenry & Whiteside, c1985. 159pp, cloth, ISBN 0-88902-544-4 (cloth) $19.95, 0-88902-541-X (paper) $14.95. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Joan M. Payzant

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

With God Nothing is Impossible is a simply-written autobiography with a wealth of illustrations, the majority of which are from the author's personal collection. It is the story of a man with a strong spirit of adventure who left the security of the family farm at age seventeen to eke out a meagre living during the Depression as a salesman, often with nothing to eat for a day or two, and with no place to sleep. By the Second World War, Murray Dryden was married and living more comfortably, but in 1942 he enlisted, joining the YMCA war services, serving in both Canada and overseas in Holland. After the war, Dryden returned to selling, this time grasping the opportunity presented by the post-war building boom, and concentrating on the sales of construction materials. He also became involved in the Christmas tree business in Ontario. By then he was the father of three children, Dave, Ken (the well known hockey players) and daughter Judy. One chapter of the book is devoted to them.

One night in 1961 Murray Dryden was captivated by the peaceful beauty of his sleeping daughter. He photographed her in several poses and then went on to catch his friends' children in interesting sleeping positions, finally travelling to many different countries throughout the world to pursue this rather odd hobby. His plan was to publish the photographs in book form, but he had difficulty interesting a publisher. It was then that he conceived of an original plan that was to bring further adventure into his life. He began a new registered Canadian charity "Sleeping Children Around the World" (SCAW), designed to provide beds for children in developing countries. Distribution of kits, (consisting of a mattress, two rubber sheets, two cotton sheets, a blanket, pillow, pillow slip, mosquito net, and pyjamas) began in India in 1970, and to date 85,000 children in eighteen countries have received these kits, courtesy of SCAW. Eighty per cent of the money for the kits comes from Canada, fifteen percent from Australia, and five per cent from the United States. Dryden has spoken tirelessly to groups, raising money, and has travelled all over the world in connection with his project, photographing the children who receive the kits.

With God Nothing is Impossible is full of anecdotes about Dryden's travels, the people he has met, the ones who have helped him, his favourite places and cities. A whole chapter is devoted to his strong opinions on such diverse subjects as poverty, politics, telephone listings, noise pollution, and bird feeders.

While many of Murray Dryden's experiences are typically Canadian, what makes his autobiography fascinating is following his development as a farm boy, a poverty-stricken salesman, a successful business man, a serviceman in World War II to his present status as a philanthropist. To quote Kenneth Bagnell who wrote the foreword to the book: "Murray Dryden's life has been shaped and directed by a set of values that puts others first. Even the most discouraged of us knows how much we need to recover something of that set of values for ourselves and for the Canada of our grandchildren."

Joan M. Payzant, Dartmouth, N.S.
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