Orrin Squire Wood (1817-1909)

Pioneer Telegrapher & President of the Montreal Telegraph Company

Associated Houses



He was born in Sherburne, New York. He became a pioneer telegrapher and the first student to study at New York University under the inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Finley Breese Morse. His sister married Ezra Cornell who assisted Morse in the construction of the Baltimore-Washington telegraph line and in 1845, Wood, Morse, and Cornell were among the founders of the Magnetic Telegraph Company. He oversaw the building of the line between Albany, New York and Utica which opened in early 1846 and precipitated the rapid expansion of the telegraph across North America. That fall, he opened the first commercial telegraph office in New York City. In 1847, he was brought to Canada by the Montreal Board of Trade who appointed him the first President of the Montreal Telegraph Company and by August that year had established lines to Toronto, Quebec City, and New York. He retired from his position in Montreal in 1866, and later worked in Wisconsin. He died at his summer home in Turner, Orange County, New York. Having long outlined Morse, Alfred Vail, and Cornell, for many years he was referred to as the "oldest living telegrapher". His second wife, Julia, was the daughter of William Forbes, of Montreal, and the mother of his two surviving children.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 25/05/2023 and last updated on 25/05/2023.