The Hill House, taken from near 240th showing the house in its original location in about 1970.
The Hill House, taken from near 240th showing the house in its original location in about 1970.

Builder Victor Rossi completed the 4000 square foot ‘Hill House’ in 1912 for Hendrick Hill, a Finn who had made a fortune in Yukon Gold.  He had solid gold nuggets decorating his gold watch chain, which were testimony to his success.  Their son Harold was  born in Quartz Creek, Yukon, in 1904 and lived there until he was six.

Hendrick’s wife, Ida, predeceased him in 1928.  Hendrick passed away in 1941.

Erna, a member of the German Sobries family living in Webster’s Corners, moved into the house in 1934 as the bride of Hendrick’s son, Harold.  She grew to love Hendrick, but never met his wife Ida, who had already passed away.

Harold Hill, owner of Hill House and Albion fisherman, at an Oolichan sale on Albion Wharf in 1972
Harold Hill, owner of Hill House and Albion fisherman, at an Oolichan sale on Albion Wharf in 1972

After Harold and Erna’s wedding, the ample space at the Hill House was put to good use.  Marlene was born within the first year of the marriage, and Lorita three years later.  The house was also a working farm, complete with a dairy herd, chickens and pigs.

The Hills were financially stable through the Depression, which was still taking place in the early days of their marriage.  Hendrick’s policy was to help anyone who came to the door.  This reputation continued for many years to come, and the family would often provide lodging for new residents in the community.

The area was becoming more developed in 1952, when Erna decided to transform several rooms of the house into a restaurant, called “Hilltop Dining”.  The living and dining rooms on the main floor became an elegant dining area, with linen tablecloths, white napkins, flowers, and highly polished wood floors.  It was the first restaurant on the north side of the Fraser River with a beer and wine licence.  Harold, a fisherman, would put on his chef’s whites after returning from a day on the boat.  Marlene and Lorita also helped, along with neighbourhood teenage girls, who were hired as servers.

Interior of Hill house showing beautiful built-in cabinetry, 1996.
Interior of Hill house showing beautiful built-in cabinetry, 1996.

Ironically, the popularity of the restaurant was its undoing.  The house’s kitchen was not equipped to handle the increased food volume and Harold, Marlene, and Lorita were opposed to further renovations.  Hilltop Dining closed in 1956.  The property was sold to Arthur and Jean Jones in 1972.  Edna didn’t want to leave, but she said the large property was becoming too much for Harold to maintain.  Harold died in 1989, after 55 years of marriage to Erna.

The Hill House was moved to its current location, just north of Lougheed Highway on 240th Street, in 1999.