A painting of a bear standing in a creek in front of some trees. A fish swims near his feet.

The enigmatic Captain Albert Vidler arrived in Vernon in the 1890s, following a tenure as a sailor on the Thompson and Fraser Rivers. Born in the U.K. and having family ties in the Vernon region, Vidler led a life that was both mysterious and marked by intriguing contradictions.

Captain Vidler initially arrived in Vernon at the turn-of-the-century on a whim, wanting to venture into trapping. Although the outcome of this endeavor remains uncertain, he later began managing a humble private mine, named “Vidler’s Mine,” on a mountain peak near Lumby. Gradually, this summit came to be known as Vidler’s Ridge.

The Captain was also an avid outdoorsman, and built a cabin on a pre-empted property near Cosens Bay. Using this retreat as a base, he would hike up to Harris Creek to hunt and explore. But despite this elusive lifestyle, Captain Vidler had a wife in Vernon, who lived in a house at the end of 30th Avenue. Interestingly, contrary to his modest lifestyle, Vidler hailed from a relatively affluent family, which likely helped him to maintain these multiple properties.

Vidler was a rough character, said to be gloweringly antisocial and wielding a bullwhip to deter conversation. But he also harbored a deep affection for butterflies, and even had one, the Vidler’s Alpine, named after him. Despite his gruff exterior, Vidler was well-educated, and enjoyed reciting poetry to his friends during their long hunting excursions. He was also an accomplished artist.

Several pieces of Vidler’s artwork are included among the Vernon Museum’s collection. One such piece, depicting a bear at Harris Creek, was given to his niece upon her marriage. Violet Vidler of Victoria had moved to Vernon a few years earlier to live with the Captain and his wife (perhaps to keep the latter company during the former’s many trips into the bush). Unlike her reclusive uncle, Violet was said to be a charming young lady, attracting numerous suitors. In 1897, she married G. A. Henderson, the inaugural manager of Vernon’s Bank of Montreal.

Over the years, Vidler produced a variety of paintings, concentrating on landscapes, seascapes, and depictions of animals. Following his eventful and adventurous life, Captain Vidler passed away in Victoria on December 31, 1905.

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts!

Gwyneth Evans, Head of Archives