William Joseph Bell was born on July 29, 1858 in Pembroke, Ontario. He worked as a lumberman from 1876 until 1896 before moving to Sudbury with his wife, Katherine.
Bell met and married Katherine Skead in 1886. Katherine was born in 1863 in Ottawa, Ontario to Senator James Skead. Upon her arrival in Sudbury with William, she founded the Victorian Order of Nurses and served as the organization's president.
In 1924, William purchased controlling interest in the Spanish River Lumber Company, establishing operations along Lake Wanapitei. He named the community that housed his operations "Skead" in honour of his wife. The company existed until approximately 1930 when all of the operations shut down in the area due to the Depression. Bell stayed on as president of the Spanish River Lumber Company until 1942.
Bell was an active member of the Sudbury Hockey Club and was president of Cochrane-Dunlop Hardware Ltd. in Sudbury. He also served as secretary-treasurer for St. Andrew's United Church in Sudbury and was a dedicated parishioner.
William Bell died on January 12, 1945 in Sudbury at the age of 87. Previous to his death, Bell had donated a large lot of land to the Sudbury community. It was named Bell Park in his honour. His wife, Katherine died on January 8, 1954 at 91 years of age. Both William and Katherine are buried in Pembroke, Ontario.
The Bell Estate, named Bell Rock, was an historical monument that was originally donated to the Sudbury Memorial Hospital, but was later given to Laurentian University for use as a Museum and Arts Centre.