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Alexander Wood
(1772 - 1844) Scotland - Canada

Alexander Wood

Merchant, militia officer, and magistrate


He was one of the leading merchants in York (Toronto) in the early 1800's, and was appointed a city magistrate in 1800. He was one of the few merchants accepted among York's élite, but in 1810 he left Canada for two years after admitting to physically examining several men's genitals while investigating a woman's rape claim (a story he had fabricated as an excuse).

"Arriving in 1793 from his native Scotland, he became a successful merchant and magistrate, but his sexuality caused such scandal that he was forced to return to Britain and even became the object of attack by a pamphlet... His name is honored on two Toronto streets, one of them now, appropriately, home to Buddies in Bad Times, Toronto's gay and lesbian theater."

Alexander WoodIn 1810, Wood was at the centre of a scandal when he investigated a rape case. The victim, "Miss Bailey", came to Wood claiming that she did not know the identity of her attacker. Howevers she had scratched her assailant's genitals during the assault.

Wood personally inspected the genitals of a number of suspects for injury. It was even alleged that Wood fabricated the rape charge as an opportunity to fondle and seduce young men. To this day, the truth of what actually happened is unknown.

Judge Powell buried the potential sodomy charges on condition that Wood leave Upper Canada. Wood left for Scotland in October of 1810.

He returned to York in 1821 where he lived for the next 21 years acting as agent for absentee landowners and executive member of several organizations. Despite the scandal, he had a long, successful career in public service as executor of nearly every charitable and philanthropic society in York.


Quote source: Terry Goldie, Gay Histories and Cultures, p. 167

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