Sheila Murray’s acclaimed novel, Finding Edward, has been called ‘remarkable,’ ‘powerful’ and ‘a touchstone.’ Her articles and short fiction have appeared in Canadian magazines and journals including, Refuge Journal, Descant, The Dalhousie Review, Exile, TOK, Writing the New Toronto, Room and The New Quarterly. Sheila’s writing has been supported by the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council.

A resident of Hamilton, Ontario, Sheila was born and raised in England. Her father was Black and Jamaican and her mother was white and English, but DNA analysis reveals a multiracial ancestry that spans much of the world. This inspires her continuing interest in issues of race and identity. Most of Sheila’s working life was spent as a documentary filmmaker and television sound editor. Since 2012, she has worked in the social justice, not-for-profit sector, and now leads a grassroots, volunteer-driven initiative that engages urban residents in adaptation to local climate change impacts. She has a BA in Journalism and an MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies.

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Finding Edward

Cyril Rowntree migrates to Toronto from Jamaica in 2012. Managing a precarious balance of work and university he begins to navigate his way through the implications of being racialized in his challenging new land.

A chance encounter with a panhandler named Patricia leads Cyril to a suitcase full of photographs and letters dating back to the early 1920s. Cyril is drawn into the letters and their story of a white mother’s struggle with the need to give up her mixed race baby, Edward. Abandoned by his own white father as a small child, Cyril’s keen intuition triggers a strong connection and he begins to look for the rest of Edward’s story.

As he searches, Cyril unearths fragments of Edward’s itinerant life as he crisscrossed the country. Along the way, he discovers hidden pieces of Canada’s Black history and gains the confidence to take on his new world.


Finding Edward received the 2023 Hamilton Literary Award for fiction. It was a finalist for the 2022 Governor General's Literary Awards and a longlist nominee for Canada Reads 2023. It was a 2023 Toronto Book Awards finalist, a 2022 Globe and Mail Best Book, CBC Best Canadian Fiction, 49th Shelf best book, listed in Toronto Star’s best books gift guide and was the 2023 selection for One Book One Aurora. CBC named Sheila one of 6 Black writers to watch in 2023.
  • Sheila Murray writes lush descriptions and dialogue with the density and harmony of a symphony. In this way, she carries the reader along the emotional and physical landscape of the young protagonist, Cyril, from the island of Jamaica to Canada to study.

    World Literature Today
  • Sheila Murray has created a sharp and incisive study of Black history in Canada from the Toronto neighbourhood of the Ward in the early 20th century to the Atlantic Canadian community of Africville. Murray's supple prose and confident storytelling make Cyril's journey a fascinating and rewarding reading experience in a debut of uncommon power and pathos.

    Toronto Book Awards
  • A tremendous debut novel that captivates you from the first sentence to the last. A beautiful tale told with deep humanity, so raw and real, it could only be written from the soul. Sheila Murray’s prose is exquisite, and her gift for storytelling is a delight and a treasure. - Indra Ramayan, author of Mud Lillies

    The Globe 100: The best books of 2022
  • The stories are “so tidily, and beautifully interwoven like the most beautiful french braid. It works so perfectly.” - Donna Bailey Nurse "I love it. It’s so exciting, it’s so beautiful." - Shelagh Rogers

    The Next Chapter - CBC
  • …a clear- sighted and deeply felt novel, which reminds us there are more ways of knowing what happened in the past than just knowing what happened. This is a powerful debut that considers the history and the present of Black people through a truly vibrant set of characters.

    Literary Review of Canada (LRC)
  • In lucid, scintillating prose, suffused with mystery and everyday magic, Sheila Murray delivers one of the most penetrating dramas of Black experience in all of Canadian literature. This tale of a lonely Jamaican student enrolled at Ryerson University follows his obsession with the life of a struggling Black boy in Depression-era Toronto. A parallel portrait of two Black bi-racial men, Finding Edward expands to enfold a sweeping history of Blacks in Canada. This beautiful, necessary novel will become a touchstone.

    Donna Bailey Nurse, author of What’s a Black Critic to Do?
  • Murray’s rich narrative offers mystery, but it also spans decades of Canadian history, differentiating Finding Edward from the typical immigrant story. The prospect of better understanding Edward’s life in Canada offers Cyril an escape from his own excruciating isolation. Murray triumphs in capturing the undeniable and unmistakable ache of severe loneliness.

    Quill & Quire
  • “This is Murray’s first novel, although that’s hard to imagine when reading it. As well as being technically dextrous, Finding Edward is deeply moving, humane and wise.”

    Lesley Krueger
  • "Sheila Murray, author of the remarkable and moving debut Finding Edward, exhibits a paradoxical ability to articulate the unwieldy dimensions of real life while maintaining a refined and nuanced style. Amazing to me is the technical dexterity with which she constructs the marvellous complexity of her story."

    Black Iris
  • A remarkable novel. In this, her first, Sheila Murray has created a haunting allegory out of the Caribbean’s relationship with Canada. Cyril leaves Jamaica for Toronto, where he discovers that the real education he will need for ‘a better life’ involves an exploration of the life of a man born seven decades before him. Edward’s lonely journey of social marginalization takes him from Africville to the lumber camps of British Columbia across much of the twentieth century; his life of adversity and poverty in a country yet to recognize its racist policies and practices is a parallel to the life Cyril is trying to forge anew. This novel is a great achievement; it reminds us that the surmountable obstacles facing us in any age are frequently unfounded and misinformed prejudices.

    Rachel Manley, Author of the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning Drumblair
  • Sheila Murray’s debut novel Finding Edward is a significant literary work that gives a voice to the voiceless and infuses the present with a previously unrecorded past, bridging much of the black experience in twentieth century Canada, from Africville to the lumber camps of British Columbia.

    Rebel Women Lit
  • Powerful

    Open Book