Personal Histories: John Opra — the teacher, councillor and Legion member

John Opra has played a central role in Revelstoke's development as both an educator and city councillor.

John Opra leads the 2015 Revelstoke Remembrance Day ceremony

John Opra leads the 2015 Revelstoke Remembrance Day ceremony

John Opra has seen a lot of changes in the 78 years he’s been in Revelstoke. And among all of them, he says, the development of Revelstoke Mountain Resort stands out as the most significant.

“Revelstoke Mountain Resort is probably the most significant of all the changes that has occurred,” said Opra “That and the tourism that has come along with it. The whole community has changed because of the development.”

Opra, who was a Revelstoke City councilor for 23 years straight (he was first elected in 1972) admits to being one of the driving forces in “getting the ski hill done.”  He also recalled being involved with getting the now famous bear statues installed at Grizzly Plaza, and the development of the Revelstoke Golf Course.

“When we were young there was absolutely very little south of the Illecillewaet River. Up by where the hospital is now there were a few farms and that was about all,” said Opra, who grew up on Fourth Street East. “The same was true of the golf course side. There was very little at that time. We helped open some of that up and the golf course expanded from nine holes to 18.”

Being involved with city council isn’t the only place Opra has seen changes in Revelstoke over the years. Beginning his teaching career in 1959 at Farwell School,  Opra went on to teach at Mountain View School until the late 1960s when he was appointed the principal of Mount Begbie Elementary School. He also was principal for Selkirk and Farwell together, and then Farwell and Columbia Park together before eventually taking the role of Director of Instruction within the School District. He held that position until he retired in 1996.

“It’s hard to believe. I know in my time as Director of Instruction, Mica School was closed. Then after that we closed Trout Lake School. Then Farwell closed,” said Opra, who also noted the more recent closures of Mount Begbie and Mountain View Elementary schools.

“There’s been very significant changes in the education side of it. It was a good career, I enjoyed it. I probably went through at least three generations of students and parents and teachers, which was quite interesting,” he said. “Having been in all those schools you got to meet people from all different parts of the community, not only from the central part of the community but the fringes of the community and so forth.”

Now, 20 years into his retirement, Opra is enjoying the quieter things in life. He did enjoy golfing earlier in his retirement, but can no longer do so due to health reasons. He still devotes his time to helping with the Revelstoke Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. It’s not surprising, considering Opra’s been a member since he was 21 years old. His long time dedication resulted in his being appointed a lifetime member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“I’ve spent a lot of time particularly with the Remembrance Day ceremonies, which I firmly believe are vital for the community to remember the people who have volunteered to fight for their country so we know why we have our freedoms and things of that nature. And it is the one thing I will hopefully continue to do for the Legion, because I think it’s so important.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Before the pandemic, Rebecca Martin said she felt like the world was her oyster, but in the spring of 2020 the oyster snapped shut. According to Revelstoke’s Well-being survey results, the pandemic has been particularly hard on young people. (Contributed)
I ❤️ Revy: ‘Any sense of future and freedom I had was lost’

Revelstoke survey says youth age 18-25 were most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions

File
Court awards $150K to car crash victim near Revelstoke

The incident occurred in 2015 during a snowstorm on Highway 1

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Kentucky has more bourbon than people

Your morning start for Thursday, May 6, 2021

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,000 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A screenshot of the pathway’s construction. (City of Kelowna)
Okanagan Rail Trail to be extended to downtown Kelowna waterfront

Construction of the pathway is scheduled to begin on Monday, May 10

B.C. average home price and sales level to 2023, showing steep drop in sales expected next year. (Central 1)
Forecast calls for B.C. home sales to ‘explode,’ then drop off

Average price to rise another 10% in 2021, credit unions say

Central Okanagan recorded 174 cases throughout the week of April 25 to May 1. (BCCDC/Contributed)
Weekly COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease in Central Okanagan

The Central Okanagan had 174 cases from April 25 to May 1

RCMP did not commit offense in arrest which seriously injured Lake Country man, finds IIO. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
Vernon police didn’t use excessive force in domestic takedown: Watchdog

‘One stepped on him and one had his knee in his neck,’ woman told IIO

Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Sullivan Mack gets a boost into West Kelowna goalie Johnny Derrick from Warriors forward Tyson Jugnauth during West Kelowna’s 5-4 B.C. Hockey League pod play win Wednesday, May 5, at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place. (Tami Quan Photography)
West Kelowna Warriors hold on to edge Silverbacks

Warriors up three with five minutes to go, give up two late goals but end up with 5-4 BCHL win over Salmon Arm

Most Read