He was born in Sainte-Justine-de-Dorchester, Quebec and studied at the Université St-Louis (in the Canadian province of New Brunswick), the Université de Montréal (in Quebec), and at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France, where he received a doctorate in literature.
From 1994 to 1997, he served as head of the Canada Council.
In 1999, Carrier was named Canada's National Librarian.
Also involved in theatre (having served as dramaturge at the Théâtre du Nouveau-Monde), Carrier has adapted La guerre, yes sir! and Floralie, où es-tu? for the stage. La guerre, yes sir! was produced as a play in 1970. Floralie, où es-tu? was performed by Théâtre du Nouveau-Monde in 1974.
An excerpt from "The Hockey Sweater," one of Carrier's most famous contes, is reprinted on the back of the Canadian $5 bill.
See also: Canadian literature.