After four years of "endless paperwork" and "intense negotiations," a document that paved the way for some of democracy's most important rights and freedoms — the Magna Carta — is on display at the Canadian Museum of History from Friday until July 26.
There are several copies of the charter in existence and some of them have toured the world, but the copy made in 1300, which will be on display at the museum in Gatineau, Que., has never left the U.K.'s Durham Cathedral until now.
The Magna Carta turns 800 years old on Monday. The trip from the U.K. to Ottawa-Gatineau is part of the anniversary celebrations.
"It's taken four years of intense negotiations. It's not easy to move a document like this. But once we were in negotiations, we felt it was something we wanted to do to celebrate the anniversary, and particularly seeing that the Queen wanted the Commonwealth included, this was an opportunity to do that," said Rev. Rosalind Brown, the Durham Cathedral's librarian.
"To understand how blessed we are to live here and now, you have to understand what the foundations of this country are, and this document was really the blueprint of many of the rights and freedoms that we enjoy here today," said Suzy Rodness, who, along with her husband, worked for several years to bring the Magna Carta to Ottawa-Gatineau.
She and Len Rodness are co-chairs of Magna Carta Canada, a charitable foundation that raised funds and established committees to bring the document to Canada.
The Magna Carta, also known as the Great Charter of the Liberties, was created in 1215 by England's barons to curb the arbitrary powers of King John I, according to Magna Carta Canada's website.
"It expresses four key principles: that no one is above the law, not even the monarch; that no one can be detained without cause or evidence; that everyone has a right to trial by jury; and that a widow cannot be forced to marry and give up her property ― a major first step in women's rights," the website reads.
Also on display at the museum will be the Charter of the Forest, which was first issued in 1217 and complements the Magna Carta in more specific detail.
"It re-established the right of free men to hunt and farm in the king's royal forest. It also substantially reduced the area of the royal forest, which had accounted for roughly a third of England, and banned severe punishments for forest offences such as hunting protected deer," the website reads.
The Magna Carta will also travel to Winnipeg, Toronto and Edmonton until late December.