Seeking his Vidal roots

NOTE: The following is a transcription of an article that appeared in the Sarnia Observer following my visit there. A scan of the original can be found here.

The Observer (Sarnia, Ontario)
21 Sept 2005

By Krista McFadden

Jim Vidal has traveled the world to trace his ancestry – and he’s found a link in Sarnia.

The 28-year-old Chicago native is the sixth generation grandson of Admiral Alexander Vidal, an officer in the British Royal Navy who settled in Sarnia in the early 1800s alongside his older brother, Captain Richard Emeric Vidal.

“I always knew Sarnia was where the brothers settled and I knew more information would turn up if I came here,” said Vidal as he looked over some memorabilia at the Sarnia History Museum.

Both of the Vidal brothers were surveyors and Alexander Vidal spent four years mapping the coast of Africa.

When Jim Vidal was in South Africa about a year ago, working on a soon-to-be released Nicolas Cage film, he came across Cape Vidal and his interest was piqued.

Since then, Vidal has traveled to France and England, and now to Sarnia, for the sake of uncovering his family tree.

“I’m a storyteller… I love true stories,” said Vidal. From the information Vidal’s uncovered on his genealogical searches, he hopes to write a biography on every generation of the Vidals, including the Sarnia brothers.

“I’m trying to find out everything I can, this will be a lifetime of research,” said Vidal.

“It’s a fascinating history, said Vidal’s mom, who accompanied her son on his research road trip.

“I think it’s wonderful… Jim just got interested and started chasing it down,” she said.

During their visit to Sarnia, the Vidals have driven down Vidal Street and around Mooretown, where the brothers settled, and checked out old artifacts relating to the Vidal brothers at the Sarnia History Museum.