An original copy of Magna Carta was unveiled at the Manitoba legislature on Friday. ((CBC))

One of only a few copies of England's original Magna Carta, handwritten in Latin almost eight hundred years ago, has arrived in Winnipeg.

The document, produced in 1217, will be on public display four hours a day for three months at the Manitoba legislature, Premier Greg Selinger announced Friday.

"I am very pleased and honoured to have this critical document in the history of democracy," Selinger said. "We are very proud it will have a temporary home here for Manitobans and all those who visit our province to see."

Acquiring this issue of Magna Carta involved months of preparations and negotiations.

The document was on display in New York City, but poor travel conditions as a result of Iceland's volcanic ash cloud delayed its return home. The delay allowed for the negotiations that led to its Winnipeg visit.

Magna Carta is considered by many to be the first significant influence on the modern concept of human rights. The original document, also known as the Great Charter of Liberty, defined the limits to royal power and was signed by King John at Runnymede in 1215. Seventeen copies of the original survive from the 13th century.

Manitoba is receiving one of four copies issued in 1217. The visit marks only the second time this particular document has left Britain.


Premier Greg Selinger shows off the Magna Carta on its display pedestal. ((CBC))

"This is a very significant record of human history and I strongly encourage everyone to come and see it for themselves," Selinger said.

Selinger will show the document to the Queen at Government House on Saturday and it will be available for public viewing starting July 12.

The public will be able to see it in Room 200 of the legislative building from noon to 4 p.m., seven days a week. It will return to the United Kingdom in the first week of October.

The document will be on display along with the stone the Queen is bringing from the fields of Runnymede near Windsor Castle.

During her visit to Winnipeg, the Queen will unveil the stone at the site of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and it will eventually become a cornerstone of the museum.