Born in Amsterdam and raised in Winnipeg, Peter attended Ridley from 1958-59. After graduating in 1962 from the University of Manitoba with degrees in Political Science and English, Peter received a law degree from Dalhousie University in 1965, and earned his Master’s Degree in Administration at the Harvard Business School in 1970. Unlike more traditional law school graduates, he entered the entertainment industry as a producer.
Less than a decade after graduating from Harvard, he was Vice President and General Manager of CBC's English Language Radio and Television Networks. In 1983 he became the publisher of Toronto Life
magazine where he had an immediate impact in the publishing world. In 1992, he became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TVOntario. While he was Chairman, TVOntario achieved dramatic improvements in its network programming and won an unprecedented number of national and international awards. In 1998, Peter was awarded the John Drainie Award by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for his distinguished lifetime contribution to Canadian broadcasting.
He began his new role as President and CEO of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on September 1, 1999. There, Herrndorf has worked to strengthen the National Arts Centre's national role, as well as its youth and education activities across Canada. He was awarded the "Diplôme d'honneur" by the Canadian Conference of the Arts in 2000, presented annually to an individual for outstanding service to the arts in Canada. He was also selected as one of Canada’s 50 “nation-builders” by The Globe and Mail
in 2002. In 2008, he was appointed to the Order of Ontario.
He has received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from York University in 1989, from the University of Winnipeg in 1993, from Dalhousie University in 2000, from Carleton University in 2004, and from both the University of Manitoba and Brock University in 2006. In 2017, Peter was named as a Companion of the Order of Canada—the highest level of the order—for his leadership in the arts community.