A Kootenay School of Writing collective member and former Talonbooks employee, Michael Barnholden moved to Vancouver in 1970, served as the director of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt for one year and returned to Vancouver where he founded a book review periodical called The Rain Review of Books in 2003.

Born in Moose Jaw, Michael Barnholden became fascinated with the Riel Rebellion period in general, and Riel's military leader Gabriel Dumont (1838-1906) in particular, leading to his translations for Gabriel Dumont Speaks (Talonbooks, 1993) [See below] and a collection of rare photographs of battles that occurred in Saskatchewan that led to Louis Riel's surrender [See below]. He has also published a book of poetry, On The Ropes, and co-edited a Kootenay School of Writing anthology, Writing Class, with Andrew Klobucar.

According to historian Chuck Davis, the first riot in Vancouver occurred in 1887 when a white mob wrecked a Chinese camp in False Creek, enraged because Chinese laborers willing to accept 75 cents per day, were undercutting white laborers' attempts to establish $2 per day as the going rate. Subsequent public demonstrations accompanied by property damage (real or imaginary) and police presence beyond the ordinary is the subject for Barnholden's Reading the Riot Act: A Brief History of Riots in Vancouver (Anvil $18). Barnholden's sympathies are with the vanquished as he reveals how eyewitness reports and testimonies are often at variance with media reports-whether it's the Gastown Riot of 1971, the APEC demonstrations of 1997, the Stanley Cup riot of 1994, the Grey Cup riots of 1963 and 1966, or the renowned Post Office and Art Gallery occupations of 1935. "Every city has its distinct history of rioting,"; he says. "... I decided to pursue the subject after the APEC riots made it clear that the local political economy was ignored in favour of a 'bad apple' explanation, which only further obscured the causes and events leading up to the riot."; Barnholden proposes an equivalent of the London Riot Re-enactment Society in order to stage re-enactments that will make historical events live again. His roster of riots includes the Anti-Asian riots of 1907, the B.C. Penitentiary riots of 1934 and 1938, the Rolling Stones riot of 1972, the Guns 'n' Roses riot of 2002 and the Punk Rock riot of 2004.

Barnholden wrote the text to accompany the photos of Nancy Newman for Street Stories: 100 Years of Homelessness in Vancouver (Anvil 2007), a collaborative work of photographs, interviews, and and essays on homelessness and poverty in Vancouver. This book draws on the artistic, advocacy and social work expertise of its contributors in light of the increases in homelessness regularly associated with hosting the Olympics.


Gabriel Dumont Speaks (Talonbooks, 1993, 2009). ISBN 0-88922-323-8; $14.95

On the Ropes (Coach House, 1996). With Michael Dorn. 1552450023

Writing Class (New Star, 1999). Co-edited with Andrew Klobucar.

Reading the Riot Act: A Brief History of Riots in Vancouver (Anvil 2005). 1-895636-67-1; $18

Street Stories: 100 Years of Homelessness in Vancouver (Anvil 2007).

Circumstances Alter Photographs: Captain James Peters' Reports from the War of 1885 (Talon $35).

"The Production of Meaning: The Radical Impulse in Poetry and Poetics, Vancouver, 1969-1975";. In Making Waves: Reading BC and Pacific Northwest Literature. Chapter 6, pp. 103-115. (Anvil, 2010).

[BCBW 2012]