Orson Shorey Wheeler was best known for his portrait busts and as an educator at Montreal's Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) and McGill University. Among his commissions for sculptural portraits are six bronze busts of the former rectors and principals of Sir George Williams.
Wheeler received a B.A. in 1927 from Bishop's University, studied with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts members in Montreal, and continued his art education in New York at the Cooper Union, the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, and the National Academy of Design from 1928 to1931. From 1931 he exhibited regularly at the Art Association of Montreal and the Royal Canadian Academy, and became a member of the Sculptors' Society of Canada in 1941.
In 1931 Wheeler began his teaching career at Sir George Williams, where he continued into his retirement. Between 1940 and 1990 he made several hundred "plastiline" scale models of world-famous buildings - some with cutaway sections to show the interior space - as teaching aids for his classes in art and architectural history.
His work Negro (Tommy Simmons) was exhibited at the Tate Gallery, London, in 1938, and at the New York World's Fair the following year. Wheeler's diploma piece for the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Head of a Girl (1946), a portrait bust of the Montrealer Lucille Vaughan, is now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.