He was born near Paisley, Scotland in 1804 and came to Upper Canada in 1833 to work in a York (Toronto) dry goods business affiliated with a Glasgow-based firm. He became a partner in 1837. McMurrich served on Toronto city council in 1860. He was elected to the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada in an 1862 by-election. He served on the Public School Board in Toronto for a number of years and was chairman from 1865 to 1867 and in 1870. In 1867, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for York North as a Liberal; he was defeated in 1871. He was a member of the Toronto Board of Trade and served as president for a number of Toronto companies. He died in Toronto in 1883.
McMurrich name bears on a few places in Ontario:
- McMurrich/Monteith is a municipality and census subdivision in Ontario named after McMurrich.
- McMurrich Street and McMurrich Junior Public School in Toronto are named in his honour.