Born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, on August 19, 1924, Boyle was the son of a medical doctor and moved to Quebec with his father and mother Bernice when he was less than two. He was home schooled by his mother until age fourteen, when he attended Montreal's Lower Canada College to complete his secondary education. Boyle attended McGill University, but his education was interrupted in 1943, when he joined the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. He was loaned to the Royal Navy, where he was learning how to land Spitfires on aircraft carriers as the war ended. He gained a BSc in 1947, an MSc in 1948, and a PhD degree in 1950, all from McGill University.