Ray received a BSc and MSc in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a PhD in Economics from the University of Toronto. He has held a number of positions with Statistics Canada and the position of Chief of the Rural Research Group in Statistics Canada. In 2011, he received an honourary doctorate degree from Brandon University.
He has served as President of the Canadian Association of Rural Studies and the Canadian Agricultural Economic Society. He was as a member of the founding committee of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation and also a past-chair of the OECD Working Party on Territorial Indicators.
His research interests have evolved from the structure of agriculture and the pluriactivity of farm family members to all socio-economic aspects of rural populations. He edited Rural and Small Town Canada (Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 1992) and (with John M. Bryden) Rural Employment: An International Perspective (Wallingford: CAB International, 1997).
Ray was the founding editor of Statistics Canada’s Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletins in 1998 and continued in this role up to his retirement in this role. During this time, 62 bulletins were published at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?catno=21-006-X&CHROPG=1&lang=eng.