On graduating from the University of Colorado, John Murchie immigrated to Halifax in 1967 for doctoral studies in English at Dalhousie University. For almost twenty years he was Director of the Library and Associate Professor at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design until moving to Sackville, New Brunswick in 1990 to accompany Gemey Kelly, his wife, who was appointed Director and Curator of the Owens Art Gallery.
Since then, Murchie has worked as a cook, baker, farmer, writer, curator and researcher, including, Associate Curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and a Research Fellowship in Historical Canadian Art at the National Gallery of Canada. For ten years he worked as the Coordinator at Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre, an artist-run centre in Sackville. For over 40 years he has also been active as an exhibiting artist.