Ian was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1933. His father George Tyson had come to Canada in 1906 and went to work as a ranch hand in the Bowden-Innisfail area north of Calgary . Ian grew up reading Will James (external link) books about the wild west. The only thing Ian wanted to be when he grew up was a cowboy, a career that his father tried to discourage him from. When he was a teenager, he began riding broncs in local rodeos, that lead to a 20 year amateur rodeo career as a bronc rider and calf roper. Then in 1956 at a rodeo in Alberta, Ian had a accident that blew his ankle out, permanently damaging it. In a Calgary hospital, recovering from surgery that rebuilt and pinned his ankle, he learned how to play the guitar.
In 1958 , at age 24 he and moved to Toronto to follow his musical career. There he met Sylvia Fricker and formed an alliance that became Ian and Sylvia. They eventually married and had a son Clay. Ian became disillusioned with life in the city and eventually bought a small ranch outside Toronto. Since his ankle injury prevented him from returning to the rodeo circuit, he took up what he calls "an old man's rodeo", cutting horse competitions. The more he became immersed in the cutting horses, the more he thought about moving back to the west.
Then in 1975, after his divorce from Sylvia, he moved out to southern Alberta and worked as a ranch hand. He then worked at a local cowboy bar in Calgary, called The Ranchman (it is still there and open, on Macleod Trail in Calgary) There he met a teenage waitress, Twylla Dvorkin and had what some consider a scandalous affair. They eventually married in August of 1986 and have a daughter named Adelita. All three live on the T-Bar-Y ranch in Longview, just south of Calgary.
In 1983 he recorded an album in his living room that was intended as a Christmas present for his friends, it was a collection of old western classics, ballads and songs that he had wrote. Thus his second career had begun, the album was Old Corrals and Sagebrush.
Special thanks to Internet Cowboy for above info on Ian Tyson