Peter Jennings in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Jennings was the son of Charles Jennings, the first news anchor and head of the news department at the CBC. After the family moved to Ottawa, Ontario, Peter grew up there and attended Lisgar Collegiate Institute.
He also attended Trinity College School in Port Hope Ontario. Although a member of the class of 1957, Peter left in 1955 to pursue broadcasting. Jennings also attended Carleton University, University of Ottawa, and Rider College in New Jersey. He never graduated from high school or college.
He got his start in broadcasting at the age of nine, hosting a weekly half-hour CBC Radio kids' show called Peter's People. In his late teens and early twenties, he appeared in a number of amateur musical theatre productions with the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society, including Damn Yankees and South Pacific.
He later hosted a local television program called Club Thirteen, similar to American Bandstand. He also worked as a Royal Bank of Canada teller before his journalist days. At the age of 23, he was hired by a Brockville, Ontario radio station. After his coverage of a local train wreck was picked up by the CBC, Canada's first private TV network CTV (a competitor of his father's network) hired Jennings to co-anchor its late-night national news.
He was assigned to cover civil rights activities, where he was quickly noticed by American network ABC and in 1964 was hired right away as a correspondent. Barely a year later, he was given several high-profile reporting opportunities for what was then a 15-minute news broadcast on ABC Evening News.