Ian has been a musician since 1972. He has released forty albums of his own work as well as acting as producer for dozens of other artists. Ian has also written fifteen plays and over one hundred theatre soundtracks. His most recent play is called A Summer—A Fair and the production enjoyed a successful tour of the Gatineau Hills during the summer of 2017. He has recently released a soundtrack CD of the Gatineau trilogy entitled Te Na Gadino.
His play, Land of Trash is currently on tour throughout British Columbia in association with Green Thumb Theatre of Vancouver. Ian made his acting debut in Jan Irwin's production of Up to Low, based on an adaptation of Brian Doyle’s book; he was also a musician and musical director on the project. Up to Low will be staged again at the National Arts Centre in the spring of 2018.
Ian has received a number of awards and nominations. In 2012, he was made a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society for his guiding and creative work in the Canadian Arctic. He has been awarded the Estelle Klein and Helen Verger Awards for his contributions to Canadian folk music; he has an honorary doctorate from Lakehead University, a Distinguished Alumni Award from Trent University, and was voted English Songwriter of the Year in 2010 by the Canadian Folk Music Awards (amongst other awards and nominations in the music and theatre world).
Ian’s songs have been covered by numerous artists and there is a tribute album of his work entitled Coastline of our Dreams featuring artists like Lynn Miles, Susan Crowe, Hart Rouge, and Valdy.
In the spring of 2014 Ian finished work on his CD, The Labrador, completing the last of his “Four Coast Project”. During 2015, Ian was chosen writer in residence at Carleton University, teaching songwriting and composition to fourth year music students. At that time, he released CD-38, celebrating the Group of Seven, entitled Walking in the Footsteps, a project commissioned by the Art Gallery of Sudbury. In the fall of 2014 Ian was awarded the Galaxie Grand prize, at the Ontario Folk awards for his song, "Away" from that album. In 2013 he won the Ontario Folk Award for best political song, "Take the Mountain Down."
In the winter and spring of 2018, Ian toured Ontario, visited Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, and played in Milan, Italy. He is working on another songwriter project entitled Let It Go as well as completing work producing Paul Rainville's premier album. May brought the run of Up to Low at the National Arts Centre.