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Gryphon Gallery: Just a Country Boy at Heart

Ian Tyson was a Glenlyon Preparatory School student from 1941 to 1947, who became one of Canada’s most recognised Country/Folk singer/songwriters. He was born in 1933 and grew up in Duncan BC, boarding at Glenlyon during the weekdays. At a young age, he learned to ride horses on the family farm. This became a life-long love and, after leaving Glenlyon, he would also leave home soon after for southern Alberta to compete in the rodeo circuit.

A serious foot injury while riding put him in a Calgary hospital and, during his recovery, he first learned to play the guitar. Ian returned to the Vancouver School of Art, and while obtaining a degree, he played local clubs singing and writing. As a commercial artist in Toronto during the folk music revival of the 1960s, he met singer/songwriter Sylvia Fricker and they formed the duo “Ian & Sylvia.” The pair became a full-time act and married in 1961.

Their success took them across the border where they met Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan’s manager, who introduced them to Vanguard Records. In 1963 they released an album with the title track “Four Strong Winds” and their career took off. This track was voted in a CBC poll as Canada’s #1 song of the Twentieth Century. 

Tyson has received too many awards to mention here but they include: Order of Canada, Governor General’s Arts Award, and Hall of Fame inductee to the Canadian Music, Country Music and Juno organisations. His songs have been recorded by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and  Johnny Cash to name but a few notable artists

It’s hard to imagine this self-styled cowboy/country singer from Duncan went to our little private school in Victoria! Update January 6, 2023: sadly, Ian Tyson passed away on December 29, 2022.

This is part of a new series entitled “Gryphon Gallery” created by our School Archivist that will provide snapshots that celebrate the achievements of a variety of alumni and staff from throughout the history of GNS.