Mairuth Hodge Sarsfield worked as a journalist and researcher before she became an on-camera host for CBC, CTV, and TVOntario. Two projects for Weekend Magazine and CBC-TV, My Friend and The Fourth Wise Man, were illustrated by Graham Bardell. The 2004 reprint of her novel No Crystal Stair was selected in November of 2004 as one of the five titles for the annual Canada Reads competition. Named for a line by black American poet Langston Hughes, the novel reflects Sarsfield's youth in Montreal's African Canadian district of Little Burgundy in the 1940s. It has drawn comparisons with Gabrielle Roy's The Tin Flute which evokes the French Canadian milieu of Montreal's St-Henri district during the same period. No Crystal Stair encompasses the influence of Rockhead's Paradise, a nightclub that attracted the uptown crowd to hear jazz greats such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and a young Oscar Peterson. Marion Willow, a proud young widow, must work at two jobs to ensure that her three girls develop lifestyles not hindered by class and colour. The bitter-sweet experience of Marion's elegant American expatriate neighbour, Torrie Delacourt, could help the girls survive Canada's subtle racism, which, though not legislated, wounds and hems them in. But the women's rivalry for the love of Edmund Thompson, a handsome railway porter, pits them against one another.

CITY/TOWN: Parksville, BC

DATE OF BIRTH: March 6, 1930

PLACE OF BIRTH: Montreal, Quebec


EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Former Civil Servant - foreign Service & United Nations


No Crystal Stair (Moulin Publishing, 1997; Stoddart, 1998; reprinted Canadian Scholars Press Inc & Women's Press, 2004)

I could have murdered Margaret Mead


The National Congress of Black Women Foundation's 1st Literary Award, No Crystal Stair, 1997.

Chevalier-l'Ordre National du Quebec, for cultural creativity, 1985.

[BCBW 2004] "Women" "Afro-Canadian"