Gord Downie's solo album Secret Path began as 10 poems motivated by the story of Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack, a 12-year-old First Nations boy who in 1966 died from hunger and exposure after running away from a residential school in Kenora, Ont.
The prose was formed into songs late in 2013 at the Bathouse Recording Studios in Bath, Ont.
The music features Downie on vocals and guitars, with all other instruments played by Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew and Dave Hamelin, formerly of the Stills. Guest musicians on the album include Barenaked Ladies keyboardist Kevin Hearn and Broken Social Scene's Charles Spearin.
"Chanie haunts me," Mr. Downie said in a lengthy statement released by the Toronto-based Arts & Crafts record label. "His story is Canada's story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were."
Late in the winter of 2014, Mr. Downie and his brother Mike Downie brought the Secret Path music to cartoonist Jeff Lemire.
The album, due Oct. 18, is to be accompanied by Mr. Lemire's 88-page graphic novel, published by Simon & Schuster Canada. Options include a deluxe vinyl and book edition or a book with a digital album download.
As well, Mr. Downie's music and Mr. Lemire's illustrations inspired The Secret Path, an animated film to be broadcast by CBC in an hour-long, prime-time, commercial-free television special on Oct. 23.
It has been speculated that the 52-year-old Downie, whose politically charged song Goodnight Attawapiskat graced the 2012 Hip album Now for Plan A, would support the Secret Path album with a solo tour.
However a representative from Arts & Crafts told the Globe that no live dates were planned at the moment.