It’s a labyrinthine tale of adoptions

SubscriptionsGo to the Subscriptions Centre to manage your:My ProfileTwice married former Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker always believed to have been childless may have fathered not one but two sons, leaving progeny scattered across the country, The Canadian Press has learned.It’s a labyrinthine tale of adoptions, broken and reconstituted families whose quest to uncover their roots turned up “Dief” as a common thread, with a gold locket and DNA tests lending credence to their stories.About 10 years ago, in Western Canada, the three Goertzen siblings began searching for their biological father, Ed Thorne, who had split from their mom four decades earlier. He made a startling discovery.”He says, ‘Oh, and my biological family has found me, too’,” Goertzen said of Thorne, who died soon after.”That’s the first time I found out he was adopted.”Edward Thorne is seen in this undated family photograph. Thorne’s sons believe he was the child of John Diefenbaker and Mary Rosa LaMarche, who was the former prime minister’s housekeeper in Prince Albert, Sask., in 1938. (The Canadian Press)Separately and coincidentally, Ruthann Malmgren, now of Rockyford, Alta., had also been looking for Thorne on behalf of her mother, Mary Rosa LaMarche, who years earlier had given him up for adoption.LaMarche had been Diefenbaker’s housekeeper in Prince Albert, Sask., in the late 1930s, Malmgren said.At the time, Diefenbaker was having marital difficulties, according to Simma Holt’s biography of his first wife, Edna Diefenbaker. His eye apparently rested on his housekeeper, whom Malmgren described as “free and easy.”In 1938, LaMarche fell pregnant and was promptly sent to Bethany Home in Saskatoon. Little John was born in February 1939. His birth certificate did not list a father.Malmgren, 70, remembers her parents were forever fighting. Her dad would say the baby was Diefenbaker’s. He would be angry his wife wore a locket with photos of herself and the infant a locket Stan Goertzen now has.”I overheard my father, George Malmgren, when he and my mom were arguing, saying that John Diefenbaker was my mother’s employer, and I guess they had an affair,” Malmgren said.

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