Magna Carta on display at Canadian Museum of History June 12-July 26
1300 copy that had never left U.K. will also make stops in Winnipeg, Toronto, Edmonton in 6-month tour
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.
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.
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.
Become a CBC Account Holder
Join the conversation Create account
Already have an account?