There hasn’t been one northern Ontario canoe trip where I haven’t listened to a full Ian Tamblyn album before heading out from the access point. I’ve sung along with his classic Woodsmoke and Oranges on my way to Lake Superior, hummed Campfire Light on my way to Algonquin, cranked up Footprints on the Mountain on my way to Killarney’s La Cloche Mountain Range, pushed replay continuously on Black Spruce on my way to Temagami, and Northlands of Ontario became a brain worm while taking the passenger train The Canadian on my way to paddle the wilds of Wabakimi.
I listened to Ian’s latest album A Longing for Innocence on my first trip of the season. I loved it!
There are some songs that resonate with his past work (In the Beltane, Water Lilly Road, Summertime Has Come). The compelling music lures you in, the powerful lyrics speak of his love of nature, and his signature inclusion of nature sounds always add to the story line. The Dolphins Came to Venice is a song of hope during the devastating pandemic, Postcard from the World speaks of his personal life when his boys flew the nest, and A Picnic in White River is a fun tune about oddity of this northern town’s tourism draw: Winnie the Pooh.
My all-time favourite has to be For the Love of a Lake. It talks about the splendour of Lake Superior; it's something Ian has done time and time again, but this one is really special. You can tell he loves canoe tripping on this magnificent lake—and always will.
Check out my interview with him on my KC Happy Camper Whisky Fireside Chat. Ian details his lengthy career, his love of music and the natural landscape… and he explains the reasoning behind the orange in his best-selling Woodsmoke and Oranges.
And I have to add, Ian has an incredible sense of humour and humbleness. Prior to the interview I sent him a list of possible questions. He concurred with them all, except one. I asked who he would rather canoe trip with: John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot or Bruce Cockburn. He politely declined on that one, saying it was a silly question. His reasoning “I wouldn't go camping with any of these guys. I would have to carry John Denver in a box or jar, Gordon Lightfoot couldn't carry a tea pot let alone a canoe and Bruce would be listening for a tree falling in the forest all the time! “