When Loreena was young she wanted to become a veterinarian but she found that music chose her rather than she it. Developing a passion for Celtic music, she learned to play the Celtic harp and began busking at various places, including St. Lawrence Market in Toronto in order to earn money to record her first album.
Founder Cook-Rees Memorial Fund Water Search & Safety, Stratford, 1998, Three Oaks Foundation; owner Falstaff School, Stratford, 2000; founder Falstaff Family Center, 2002.
In 1998, McKennitt's fiancé Ronald Rees, his brother Richard and their close friend Gregory Cook drowned during a boating accident on Georgian Bay. She was deeply affected by the event and subsequently founded the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety in the same year.
At the time of the incident, she was working on a live album of two performances called Live in Paris and Toronto. The proceeds from this album were donated to the newly created memorial fund, totaling some three million dollars. After the release of the live album, McKennitt decided to substantially reduce the number of her public performances and did not release any new recordings until the studio album An Ancient Muse in 2006.