WOOD, ENOCH, Methodist minister, administrator, and mission superintendent; baptized 13 Feb. 1802 near Gainsborough, England, son of William and Sarah Wood; d. 31 Jan. 1888 at Toronto, Ont.
Enoch Wood was educated in Gainsborough, where at the age of 16 he helped his friend Thomas Cooper, the future Chartist, organize a school for the poor. Although baptized an Anglican, he converted to Methodism and served as a local lay preacher on the Gainsborough Wesleyan circuit. The loss of five Wesleyan missionaries in the British West Indies by drowning early in 1826 led to Wood’s reception on trial for the ministry and his ordination for missionary service in London on 28 May 1826. He served in Montserrat and St Christopher until July 1829 when he was transferred to Saint John, N.B. His ministry in New Brunswick was outstanding; he served in Saint John, 1829–31 and 1836–46; Miramichi, 1831–33; and Fredericton, 1833–36 and 1846–47. In 1830 he was received into full connection with the British Wesleyan conference. He was chairman of the New Brunswick District from 1843 to 1847. During his ministry, Wesleyan Methodism was greatly extended in New Brunswick and large churches were erected at Chatham and Saint John.
In 1847 Wood accompanied the Reverend Dr Robert Alder*, representative of the British conference, to the meeting in Toronto, Canada West, at which the difficult question of reunion of the Canadian and British Wesleyans was discussed. Wood’s wise counsel helped to re-establish the union. That same year he was appointed superintendent of missions of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada and he moved to Toronto. He was president of the church from 1851 to 1857 and from 1862 to 1863. He continued as superintendent of missions until 1874 when the Methodist Church of Canada was formed through the union of the two Wesleyan conferences of British North America and the Methodist New Connexion Church of Canada. Wood was a delegate to its first general conference in September 1874 and was appointed its general secretary of missions. He was elected president of the newly formed Toronto Conference of the Methodist Church in 1874 and again the following year. On his retirement from his office as general secretary in 1878 he was named honorary secretary of missions. Wood had also been involved in the support of Victoria College, Cobourg, and in 1860 he had received the degree of doctor of divinity from that institution.
A man of broad vision, Wood made a tour of the Indian missions of the Canada conference and in 1848 drew up plans for an industrial school for Indians at Muncey, Canada West. The British Wesleyans placed their Indian missions in the Hudson’s Bay Company territories under his superintendency in 1851 in preparation for their final transfer to the Canadian conference in 1854. That year the Wesleyan congregations in Canada East also joined the conference, and two years later mission work was commenced among the French Canadians; in 1858 a mission to British Columbia was started and four ministers were dispatched. The Reverend George Young* was appointed the first Methodist missionary to the white settlers of the Canadian west in 1868. Shortly after, plans were started for the establishment of the Canadian mission to Japan and in 1873 the first two missionaries were sent.
Wood’s first wife, a native of England, died in 1828 at St Christopher. In late 1829 he married Caroline Matilda Merritt (Merrett) of Saint John, and they had five sons and six daughters. Two sons, Robert A. and John O., who became Toronto businessmen, and one daughter, Mary Bakewell, wife of the Reverend Samuel Sobieski Nelles, reached adulthood. Wood died at his home in Toronto on 31 Jan. 1888 after many years of illness; his wife survived him by only eight months. An obituary in the Christian Guardian described Wood as a kind but firm man of considerable administrative ability and an excellent preacher warmly attached to Wesleyan Methodism.
Methodist Missionary Soc. Arch. (London), Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Soc., Corr., Canada, 1829–83 (mfm. at UCA). UCA, Biog. files, Enoch Wood; Methodist Church of Canada, Missionary Soc., Minutes, 1874–83; Toronto Conference, Minutes, 1874–75; Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada, Missionary Soc., Board of Management, Minutes, 1851–74. British North American Wesleyan Methodist Magazine (Saint John, N. B., and Fredericton), 1 (1840–41)–5 (1846–47). Methodist Church of Canada, General Conference, Journal of the proc. (Toronto), 1874. Methodist Magazine, 1 (January–June 1875)–32 (July–December 1890). Methodist Magazine (London), 1815–21. Nova-Scotia and New-Brunswick Wesleyan Methodist Magazine (Halifax), 1 (1832). Wesleyan (Halifax), 1838–40. Wesleyan Methodist Church, Minutes of the conferences (London), 6 (1825–30): 140, 248, 369, 482, 550; 11 (1848–51): 620; 12 (1852–54): 146–49, 454, 501, 521; Missionary Soc., Missionary Notices (London), 5 (1826–28): 73–76, 388; 6 (1829–31): 74. Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada, Minutes (Toronto), 1847–74; Missionary Soc., Annual report (Toronto), 1847–74. Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine (London), 1822–55. Wesleyan Repository and Literary Record (Toronto), 1 (1860–61): 51–54. Christian Guardian, 1847–88.
Commemorative biog. record, county York, 51. Cornish, Cyclopædia of Methodism. Cyclopædia of Canadian biog. (Rose, 1888), 585. Nathanael Burwash, The history of Victoria College (Toronto, 1927). Early Saint John Methodism and history of Centenary Methodist Church, Saint John, N.B.; a jubilee souvenir, ed. G. A. Henderson (Saint John, 1890) .