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Obituary: Adrian Barnes

Adrian Barnes, 1963 -- 2018

Adrian Barnes was born in Blackpool, England, on April 7, 1963 and died of an aggressive brain tumour on Friday, January 5, at Gibsons, BC, with his family by his side. These two dates bracket a life intensely lived.

Adrian is survived by his mother Margaret Barnes; two sons, Ethan and Liam, and their mother, Adrian’s former wife Charlene, who remained a friend; sister Susan Hoy and her husband Bob Hoy; niece Emily and nephew Jordan; father Colin Barnes and stepmom Donna; and relatives in England.

 Adrian’s family moved to Canada from England in October of 1966, when he was a boy of only three who quickly developed an affinity for books.  Music also figured largely in Adrian's life and from the time he was a teenager he would frequent record stores, form a band, and write, sing and play music whenever possible. This passion continued throughout his life. 

On the back flap of his second novel Satan àla Mode, Adrian noted that he had “picked up degrees in English, writing, and Russian from the University of BC and the University of Manchester.” He also stated that his work “dealing and managing casinos . . . taught him about the strangeness of human experience.” Some of that strangeness can be found in his first novel, Nod, published in 2013 and short-listed for the prestigious Arthur C. Clark award.

Adrian moved to Rossland with his wife, Charlene, and their first-born son Ethan in 1996. Their second son, Liam, was born after the move.  Adrian was determined to be the best father he could, and chose Rossland as a good place to raise children; he recognized the great value of Rossland’s natural environment, compact form, and public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12.  Adrian spent as much time as possible with his sons, sharing his love for travel, nature, and music. His favorite sport to play with friends and family was disc golf, which he played with his son Liam on a daily basis in his final years.  

In 2008, Adrian founded the Rossland Telegraph, an on-line-only community publication. He and his business partner, David Livingstone, expanded the on-line news service locally to include four franchises: the Castlegar Source, the Trail Champion, The Nelson Daily, and the Boundary Sentinel, all published as part of “Lone Sheep Publishing.”

Adrian taught in the English department at the Selkirk College Castlegar campus until his illness struck in late 2014.  His friend and colleague, Almeda Glenn Miller, in reporting his death to Selkirk College, wrote, “Adrian was an explorer of body, mind, and spirit, always in wonder of the great mysteries. His classes were well known for being a generative place to articulate the great questions literature poses. He had a feisty, original mind.”

In September of 2015, an article  on Adrian noted that he “has provoked and stimulated local thinking in a number of ways. He was the founder and original editor of the independent on-line publication, the Rossland Telegraph. Before inventing the Telegraph, he edited and published a high-quality newspaper, The Kootenay Eye. Alas, the Eye was not as long-lived as many readers would have liked it to be. Barnes is also responsible for Foment West Kootenay, a movement and FaceBook page for discussion of ideas -- largely on what is wrong with our current society and how it could be improved or completely changed.  Barnes made comments there in June of 2014 that seem prescient, given political developments in Canada since then.”  

Adrian enjoyed the cut-and-thrust of discussion on life’s many issues, but he also loved the beauty of the natural world and appreciated it while jogging, hiking, cross-country skiing, and playing disc golf.  He took great pleasure in travelling and in striking up conversations with strangers as well as acquaintances.  He loved his family and friends, playing his guitar, the great outdoors, and his adopted home of Rossland.  And life. 

In accordance with Adrian’s wishes, there will be no public service or celebration of life, but if his friends have anecdotes or memories to share here in the “comments” section below, we think Adrian would be very pleased.