Born in Nelson, British Columbia, he attended high school in Vernon and has had no formal education since. He first began writing poetry seriously in 1960. During his twenties, he held a series of difficult jobs in the logging industry in the northern part of the province—as a choker, truck driver, Industrial First Aid man, sawmill worker, salesman and so on. In 1965, he moved to Vancouver and began to connect with other poets of his generation.
In 1968, Lane's first marriage ended and he moved to South America to dedicate himself completely to writing. When he returned, he remarried and established a home in the Okanagan Valley in 1972. In 1974 he and his wife moved to the Sunshine Coast.
After a second divorce in 1978, he became Writer-in-Residence at University of Manitoba, where he met fellow poet Lorna Crozier, who has been his partner since. Also in 1978, Lane won the Governor General's Award for his collection Poems, New and Selected.
Lane has lived for many years with Crozier in Saanichton, British Columbia, where he tends a garden of 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) that has been featured on the television program Recreating Eden, and which he wrote about in the memoir There is a Season.
From 1986 to 1990, Lane taught creative writing and Canadian literature courses at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and later taught at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia from 1991 to 2004. Although retired from formal teaching, he remains an adjunct professor at UVic and frequently leads retreats and workshops for writers. Lane's commentaries can often be heard on CBC Radio. In 2007, he was awarded the fourth annual Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence for his lifetime contribution to literature in British Columbia. His novel Red Dog, Red Dog appeared in 2008.
A recovering alcoholic and cocaine user, Lane has written about his struggles with dependency in Addicted: Notes From the Belly of the Beast, which he co-edited with Crozier, and in There is a Season.
- Letters from the Savage Mind - 1966
- Separations - 1969
- "Calgary City Jail" - 1969
- "On the Street" - 1970
- Mountain Oysters - 1971
- The Sun Has Begun to Eat the Mountain - 1972
- "Passing Into Storm" - 1973
- Beware the Months of Fire - 1974
- "certs" - 1974
- Unborn Things: South American Poems" - 1975
- "Albino Pheasants" - 1977
- Poems, New and Selected - 1978 (winner of the 1978 Governor General's Award)
- No Longer Two People - 1979 (with Lorna Crozier)
- The Measure - 1980
- Old Mother - 1982
- Woman in the Dust - 1983
- A Linen Crow, A Caftan Magpie - 1984
- Selected Poems - 1987
- Milford and Me - 1989
- Winter - 1989 (nominated for a Governor General's Award)
- Mortal Remains - 1991 (nominated for a Governor General's Award)
- How Do You Spell Beautiful? And Other Stories - 1992
- "Praise" - 1993
- Too Spare, Too Fierce - 1995 (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize)
- Selected Poems - 1997
- The Bare Plum of Winter Rain - 2000 (nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize)
- There is a Season - 2004 (nominated for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize)
- published in the US as What the Stones Remember: A Life Rediscovered 2004 (nominated for Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Non-fiction)
- Go Leaving Strange - 2005 - (nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize)
- Red Dog, Red Dog - 2008
 Edited with Lorna Crozier
- Breathing Fire - 1995
- Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast - 2001
- Breathing Fire 2 - 2004
- Patrick Lane's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Poet of the Month from CBC Words at Large (June 2007)
- BC Book Prizes-- Patrick Lane
- patricklane.ca-- Patrick Lane's website, profile (retrieved July 11, 2007)
- patricklane.ca-- Patrick Lane's website, home (retrieved July 11, 2007)
- Patrick Lane, There is a Season: A memior (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.) ISBN 0-7710-4634-0
- Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane, Addicted: Notes from the belly of the beast ISBN 1-55054-886-7