Born in an ethnic enclave of Oakville, Peter Babiak grew up in Hamilton, Toronto and Kitchener, Ontario. Prior to settling on a teaching career, he worked as a rivethead at the Ford Assembly Plant, a house framer, and a landscaper. After studying English language and literature at the University of Waterloo, McMaster, and York, he decided on an academic career. While completing his studies, Peter taught literature and history at a jail for young offenders, contract law and critical thinking at George Brown College, and economics at Dominion College. He came to Vancouver in 1994 to take an adjunct position teaching at the University of British Columbia, where he worked for ten years. From 2002 to 2006 he was Academic Director of Humanities 101, a pioneering outreach program, the first of its kind in Canada, that brought classes in the liberal arts and social sciences to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.