Michael Kelly was born in Sudbury Ontario in 1953 and attended Laurentian University from 1973 to 1978. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and then matriculated to the University of Toronto (1979-1985) for his Master of Arts in History. During this time, he was asked to write a chapter in an upcoming local Sudbury history book to help celebrate the one hundred anniversary of the founding of Sudbury. The book was divided up into decades and Michael Kelly was assigned 1900-1910. This chapter was later completed by Ashley Thompson and the book was published ten years after its intended publication date in 1993 entitled Sudbury Rail Town to Regional Capital.
Other books Kelly worked on while a student at Laurentian include Inventory and Guide to Historic Building in Sudbury, 1978.
From 1979 to 1985, Kelly traded commercial paper and foreign exchange securities as part of a corporate cash management team with INCO Limited. From 1985 to 1986 he was a regional economic development officer in Northern Ontario and from 1986-1989 he operated as a training consultant for various companies. From 1990 to the present, Kelly has worked as a professor at Cambrian College specializing in Human Relations, Ethics and Project Management.