Press Gang Publishers

Press Gang Publishers

Press Gang Publishing was one of two English language feminist printing and publishing collectives active in Canada between 1970 and 2000. The other was the Toronto Women's Educational Press (or Women's Press) in Toronto, Ontario. [Pike, Lois. "A Survey of Feminist Publishers and Periodicals in Canada" in "Women and Words/les Femmes et le Mots: Conference Proceedings", Longspoon Press p213] The organization was active from 1970 to 2002.

Early history

The organization started off as a loose counter-cultural printing collective of six women and men, but "tensions arose" between the members about the goals of the press [Pike, Lois. "A Survey of Feminist Publishers and Periodicals in Canada" in "Women and Words/les Femmes et le Mots: Conference Proceedings", , Longspoon Pressp213] and in 1974 it was reestablished as a women-only feminist and anti-capitalist collective [ ] . The press was incorporated in Vancouver, British Columbia, under the BC Companies Act as Press Gang Publishers Ltd. It published its first title, "I'm Not Mad, I'm Angry: Women look at Psychiatry", by Dorothy E. Smith and Sara David, in 1975. [Pike, Lois. "A Survey of Feminist Publishers and Periodicals in Canada" in "Women Words/les Femmes et le Mots: Conference Proceedings", , Longspoon Pressp213]

In 1974, the organization was located at 821 Hastings St., and it moved in 1978 to 603 Powell St. in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver.


Press Gang had a policy of rejecting sexist or racist material for publication. For clients, it drew largely from local feminist, radicalist, activist and community groups. The organization took financial chances, and often printed material that mainstream shops would not. Throughout its herstory, Press Gang published books primarily but not exclusively by Canadian women authors and artists. Their titles addressed social issues like racism, lesbian identity, lesbophobia, censorship, and women in conflict with the mental health and criminal justice systems.

Printing/Publishing split

By 1982, Press Gang paid six full time salaries, and the Printing part of the operation helped underwrite deficits in the Publishing section. [Pike, Lois. "Feminist Presses" from "In the Feminine: Women and Words Conference Proceedings", Warland et al, 1983, Longspoon Press, p214]

In 1989, the organization formally split into two collectives, Press Gang Printers Ltd. and Press Gang Publishers Feminist Cooperative [ ] .

The end of Press Gang

In the later 1980s, facing changes in technology, the advent of the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States, and increasing competition from larger corporate printshops created insurmountable difficulties for the collective, and in 1993 Press Gang Printers was forced to cease operations.

Press Gang Publishers continued activity, until they were squeezed out of business by changes in the Canadian publishing industry and an increasing harsh economic climate for Canadian book publishers in the later 1990s. In 2000, Press Gang Publishers formed an alliance with Polestar Publishers of Victoria, British Columbia. Soon after this, Polestar was bought by Raincoast Books, and in 2002 Press Gang Publishers were pushed to declare bankruptcy. Most of their titles remain unavailable.


* [ Collections Canada]


elected Authors

* Chrystos
* Ivan Coyote
* Sheila Baxter
* Marusya Bociurkiw
* Rita Wong
* Marion Douglas
* SKY Lee
* Betsy Warland
* Lee Maracle
* Daphne Marlatt
* Nancy Richler
* Cathy Stonehouse
* Karlene Faith
* Elana Dykewomon
* Persimmon Blackbridge
* Lizard Jones
* Karen X. Tulchinsky

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