WOOD, William Charles Henry (1864-1947)
Born on June 7th 1864 in Quebec City, William Charles Henry Wood was the son of George Augustus Leslie Wood, merchant, and of Charlotte Feodore Louisa Augusta Guérout. Rumours that Wood was the illegitimate great-grandson of Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, father of Queen Victoria, circulated for a long time, but most credible sources now reject this hypothesis.
Wood completed his primary and secondary studies at Wellington College in Crowthorne, England, and in Heidelberg, Germany.
Back in Canada, he joined the non-permanent active militia. In 1887, he became a Lieutenant in the 8th regiment of the Royal Rifles of Canada in Québec City. He was promoted Captain in 1891, Major in 1901, Lieutenant-Colonel in 1907 and Colonel in the Officers’ reserve in 1910. He worked as a special officer of the Canadian commission on military and naval fronts during World War I. Later in life, he continued to be actively involved in military affairs as Dominion President of the Army and Navy Veterans in Canada.
Wood was interested in the preservation of historical sites, particularly sites related to Canada’s military history. He was president of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec in 1900-01, 1904-05, and 1938-41. At the beginning of the century, the Society installed commemorative plaques and lobbied for the preservation of the Plains of Abraham as a historic battleground. Wood was one of the three members of the subcommittee on history and archeology for the tercentenary of Quebec City, which played an important role in setting up Quebec Battlefields Park. He was also the first president of the Historic Landmarks Association, founded in 1907, and ancestor to the Canadian Historical Society.
Wood was also involved in efforts to conserve nature. He published many articles and pamphlets on the subject around 1910. He also petitioned the Canadian Commission of Conservation to ensure the protection of birds in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence through the creation of ornithological reserves on the Labrador coast and on the islands near Percé. Wood solicited support letters from important personalities of the time, namely American president Theodore Roosevelt and the Duke of Connaught. These efforts eventually led to the creation of natural reserves in 1919.
Wood was also actively involved in the Boy Scout movement from its earliest days. He was president of the movement in Quebec in 1909. In 1943, Wood was awarded the Silver Wolf, the highest award delivered by the scout movement.
Between 1921 and 1936, Wood worked as an assistant archivist for the Quebec Provincial Archives Bureau.
He published The Fight for Canada (1909), The Loss of the Conquest of Canada (1909), Tercentenial Quebec (1910), One Sea, One Fleet, and Canada (1910), Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador (1911), The King’s Book of Canada (1911, with A.G. Doughty), In the Heart of Old Canada (1912), All Afloat (1914). The Passing of New France (1914), The Winning of Canada (1914), The Great Fortress (1915), The War with the United States (1915), The Father of British Canada (1915), Elizabethan Sea-dogs (1918), Flag and Fleet (1919), Select British Documents of the Canadian War of 1812 (1920-28), Captains of the Civil War (1921), Unique Quebec (1924), The Winning of Freedom (1927), In Defense of Liberty (1928), The Storied Province of Quebec (in five volumes, 1931-32). He received the J.B. Tyrell Medal from the Royal Society of Canada for his contribution to Canadian history.
He died in Quebec City on September 2nd 1947. He is buried at Mount Hermon Cemetery, Quebec.
- BLAIR, Louisa, Patrick DONOVAN and Donald FYSON. From Iron Bars to Bookshelves. Quebec: Septentrion, 2015 (forthcoming).
- Biographical information in Pistard, Fonds P415, Fonds William Wood, BAnQ-Quebec [online]. http://pistard.banq.qc.ca/unite_chercheurs/description_fonds?p_anqsid=201503171318472039&p_centre=03Q&p_classe=P&p_fonds=415&p_numunide=1453
- BURNETT, J. Alexander. A Passion for Wildlife: The History of the Canadian Wildlife Service. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002.
- CHOUINARD, Maxime. “Life of a President : William Wood (1864-1947).” Society Pages, number 41, Spring 2014.
- CLINT, Harold Cuthbert. “Colonel William Wood, Soldier, Historian, Archivist.” Thesis (diploma), Université Laval, 1951.
- FOSTER, Janet. Working for Wildlife: The Beginning of Preservation in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.
- MARQUIS, Colonel Georges Émile. “William Wood, sa vie et ses œuvres.” La revue de l’Université Laval, v. III, no. 5, January 1949. p. 409-420.
- MONET, Jacques. “Canadian Historical Association.” Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historica Canada, 2006.
- MORGAN. Henry J. “Wood, Lt. Col. William Charles Henry.” The Canadian Men and Women of the Time. Toronto: William Briggs, 1912.
- NELLES, H. V. The Art of Nation-building. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
- O’GALLAGHER, Marianna. “Wood, Robert.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7 [online]. http://www.biographi.ca/fr/bio/wood_robert_7F.html.
- SURVEYER, Edouard Fabre. “William Wood, 1864-1947.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of Canada, 1948.