Edmund Wyly Grier was born in Melbourne, Australia. Grier emigrated to Canada with parents in 1876.
Grier studied at Upper Canada College in Toronto, and in Kingston, Ontario. Later Grier studied painting in Europe from1886 to 1891 at Slade School, London, England under Alphonse Legros, at Scuola Libera, Rome, and Academie Julien, Paris under Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury.
Grier returned to Toronto opening a portrait studio in 1891. Grier painted numerous portraits of politicians, corporate leaders and other notable contemporaries including Sir John A. MacDonald, Sir Oliver Mowat, Sir Sandford Fleming.
Grier served with the Royal Canadian Artillery fom 1897-1903 and became vice-president of the Canadian Military Institute in 1903. He was an elected member of The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
His work can be seen at the Art Gallery of Ontario permanent.
He died in Toronto is 1957.