869 Hamilton Street

Lupo 869 Hamilton

For many years the Villa Lupo restaurant was on Hamilton Street, near Smithe. Now reopened as simply ‘Lupo’, the building is one of the last remaining houses in Yaletown. It started life as the home of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) carpenter Peter Roy who took out a building permit for it in 1904 (as owner, architect and builder). His “frame dwelling” had an estimated cost $1,600 and Roy lived in his house until 1913.

Peter Roy was already aged 53 when he built the house, and he had arrived in Canada from Scotland in 1886. His wife Elsie was also Scottish and had immigrated in 1892, the same year that they married. Despite – or perhaps because of – their ages (Peter was 41 and Elsie 33 when they married) they had three daughters in the following five years. During this time they also had lodgers including, bricklayer Samuel Millington, sign painter G. W. Doener and William Hopkinson who moved in for a year in 1909.

Born in the city of Allahabad, Hopkinson served as a police officer in Calcutta but took leave in 1908 and travelled to Canada. Though on leave, he was apparently still working for the Criminal Intelligence Department in India. He had became well known to Canadian officials and was appointed by the Governor General to the immigration department to report on the activities of the Indian community on the Pacific Coast. He came to Vancouver in 1909 after his appointment and took up residence at 869 Hamilton Street before moving to Grandview a year later with his new wife.

Hopkinson is remembered for his role in the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, and his subsequent assassination at the Vancouver Courthouse two months after the ship had been escorted from the harbour. See this website for full details on the incident and Hopkinson’s biography.

Peter Roy lived in Vancouver until his death in 1935, aged 84 and Elsie died in 1952, aged 93. However, they had moved from the Hamilton Street house many years earlier. Peter Roy sold the house in 1913 to William McKay, but just a year later the directories list only William’s wife, Mary, as living in the house. She lived there until her death in the early 1960s when it took on new life as a restaurant. The house has survived with little alteration apart from the extension of the dining room into the front porch. A fire hall and a small commercial building replaced the houses at the south end of the block, while at the other end four houses were retained, rebuilt (and in one case reconstructed from scratch after a fire) and repositioned between two blocks of a condominium development.

Unfortunately, the City of Vancouver’s Statement of Significance for this property actually profiles a house long demolished – not the surviving Lupo. Somewhat understandable given the number of times the addresses have changed on the block.

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Posted January 10, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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