James MacDonnell Woods was born in 1833 in Tulloch, Ireland and married in 1854 before immigrating to Canada the following year. By 1860 he had settled in Galt and was working as a store clerk. His business partner Alfred Taylor was born in Aberdeen Scotland in 1853 and had immigrated to Galt by 1861.
Woods and Taylor started their Dry Goods store in 1873 at the corner of Main and Water street. By 1884 Woods had become a prominent citizen in the community, volunteering as the president of the YMCA. An advertisement in the 1884/85 Waterloo County Gazeteer proclaimed they sold millinery and clothing, and also had a branch store on Queen street in the nearby town of Hespeler. A photograph of the Galt store from the 1890s advertises they offered tailoring, as well as supplying ‘gent’s furnishings’, millinery, mantles, carpets, oil cloths, and home furnishings.
Woods retired by 1897 and died in 1903, leaving Taylor to operate the business until closing the store sometime in the early 1910s. Taylor died in 1935. The three story stone building which had housed the business was torn down and replaced in 1919 with the classical facaded Bank of Montreal that still stands.