Joni Mitchell The child of a grocer and a schoolteacher, the young Anderson grew up in Fort Macleod until the age of 9, when the family moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which Joni considers her hometown. She began taking piano lessons at age 7, and immediately felt the creative instinct to write her own music. Meanwhile, she excelled at art in school.
At the age of 9, she contracted polio but recovered after a stay in hospital. Her first performances were to other patients there. She also took up cigarette smoking at the same age, which may explain the unique texture to her voice, especially on her later albums. She claims to have fallen in love with smoking directly upon taking her first puffs, stating that other children in her proximity who were also smoking broke out in fits of coughing. She says it felt right to her from the very beginning.
As a teenager she taught herself guitar and ukulele and began performing at parties. This grew into playing in coffeehouses and other venues in Saskatoon. After finishing high school she attended the Alberta College of Art for a year, but then left and returned to the coffeehouse scene.
Around the time when she left her home in Saskatoon to relocate to Toronto, she became pregnant. Seeing no other alternatives, she gave her daughter up for adoption. This remained a private part of her life during the bulk of her early/progressing career.