Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Bourgeois graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational therapy from the University of Western Ontario in 1974. She was a psychiatric occupational therapist for three years before deciding to focus on her writing. She studied journalism at Carlton University then worked as a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen and CBC Television. She became a freelance journalist in Washington, D.C.
contributing pieces to Chatelaine, Canadian Living, Readers Digest and Macleans. She returned to Toronto in 1983.In 2003, she became a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2007, she received an Honourary Doctor of Laws from her alma mater, the University of Western Ontario.