OGRA has come a long way from its early days a century ago, when the “Good Roads Train” made its way across Eastern Ontario, pulling into stations with all the latest equipment for road building, and information for local farmers. In the span of a century, roads and road building in Ontario have changed more than in all of road-building history. In 1894, the year OGRA was founded, the horse and wagon still reigned supreme, as they had since Roman times. However, Ontario roads were in a sorry state of disrepair compared to those built by Caesar’s legions. Cyclists and “wheelman’s” associations were the first to lobby for better roads. Ontario farmers depended on the railways to transport cattle, dairy products, and other produce to city markets. Even delegates to the founding meeting of the Ontario Good Roads Association were forced to use rail transport to get to and from their meetings. It was because of the vision and conviction of a few dedicated individuals that road reform took place. And the founders of the Ontario Good Roads Association laid the groundwork for a modern province-wide road and highway network. The following sections provide a brief glimpse of the history and progress of roadbuilding in Ontario over the last century. Through these passages of time, OGRA was there, helping to pave the way.
The OGRA is very proud of its long term dedication to the provision of quality roads for the people of Ontario - going back to its old days of the Good Roads Train, that carried road building equipment around the province to aid in the construction of its roadway system. A former employee of the former Department of Highways Ontario, Moma Markovich, was an award winning immigrant to Canada from the former Yugoslavia. Recognizing his artistic excellence, he was commissioned with producing paintings that represent the history of road building in Ontario. Upon his retirement he was similarly commissioned to depict the role of the Ministry of Natural Resources across Ontario.
Seized by Moma’s artistry and how he captured the essence of road and natural resource history in Ontario, David Leckie, a former employee of DHO (now MTO), the City of London, and Past President of the OGRA, set out to find and photograph as many of Moma’s paintings as he could find. The MTO, through the championing of former Assistant Deputy Minister, Carl Hennum, compiled an art book depicting approximately 60 of the over 200 paintings done by Moma, entitled “Ontario’s Road And Highway Heritage”.
Still seeking a means of sharing and preserving all of Moma’s paintings, David has created a slideshow that included all of Moma’s paintings that depict roads and natural resources across Ontario. Adding a musical background has breathed real life into Moma’s works. David and the OGRA invite you to share in this artistic nostalgia of the place in which we live and the roads that brought us here, “The Artistry of Moma Markovich”. It has been posted to YouTube and may be viewed below. For those of you wishing to see the actual paintings, MTO has obtained the partnership of the Archives of Ontario to restore and reframe about 100 of the original paintings.