Born in 1793 in Clerkenwell, a district of London, John Wood emigrated from England to Canada with his family in 1832. He was the son of Peter Wood (1760-1824) and Sarah Cromwell (1760-1839). John Wood apprenticed to a watchmaker at the age of 14. He married to Anna Wood (née Wentworth). John Wood worked as a watchmaker and jeweller in Montreal from 1835-1867, setting up an independent shop at 130 St. Paul Street in 1839. His son Charles became a partner in his business in 1845, but it was his younger son Peter who eventually took over his father's business affairs towards the end of the 1840s. John Wood was partnered with Thomas Allan from 1866-1867.