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Magna Carta at the Canadian Museum of History for its 800th anniversary

This summer, Canadians will enjoy a rare opportunity to view one of the most important historical documents in the world. Magna Carta – Law, Liberty and Legacy will be presented at the Canadian Museum of History from June 12 to July 26. This is the exhibition’s first stop on an exclusive six-month Canadian tour marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

The Magna Carta and its companion document, the Charter of the Forest, laid the foundation for fundamental principles of modern democratic life. In Canada, they helped shape the British North America Act of 1867 and the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“We are proud to be the first institution to present these foundational documents to Canadians on this national tour,” says Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History. “Visitors will gain insights into the forces that shaped the Charters, their impact in Britain and around the world, and their enduring power today as symbols of justice and democracy.”

“Canada will use this incredible opportunity to engage in a national dialogue to examine the legacy of these foundational documents. Durham Cathedral’s Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest will be welcomed and recognized as transformative documents that have, combined, cast one of the brightest lights in human history,” said Suzy Rodness, Co-Chair, Magna Carta Canada.

“When the Fathers of Confederation deliberated on how to create a country out of four separate colonies, they all agreed Canada should be a constitutional monarchy based on the concepts of freedom, democracy and the rule of law—all principles that drew from Magna Carta. As we move closer to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, it is important to learn more about the ‘Great Charter’ that has made Canada the strong, proud and free country it is today,” said the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister of Democratic Reform, on behalf of the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

The Magna Carta (Latin for “Great Charter”) was created in 1215 by England’s barons to curb the arbitrary powers of King John I. 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 Ż a major first step in women's rights.

The Charter of the Forest, first issued in 1217, complements the Magna Carta. 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. Many of the Charter’s provisions remained in force for centuries.

Several of King John’s successors made revisions to the Magna Carta. The document in the exhibition is the best preserved of seven surviving copies of the final Magna Carta, issued by King Edward I in 1300. The exhibition’s Charter of the Forest is also the final version from 1300.

In addition to viewing these remarkable historical documents, visitors will also be able to explore their historical context and worldwide impact through interactive displays.

Magna Carta – Law, Liberty and Legacy will be on display at the Canadian Museum of History from June 12 to July 26, 2015. This exhibition was developed by Magna Carta Canada. The Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest are on loan from Durham Cathedral in Great Britain, and the tour has been organized by Lord Cultural Resources, with the generous support of the Government of Canada.

About the Canadian Museum of History
Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Canadian Museum of History is Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum’s principal role is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the events, experiences, people and objects that have shaped Canada’s history and identity, as well as to enhance Canadians’ awareness of world history and culture.

About Magna Carta Canada
Magna Carta Canada (MCC) is a charitable organization committed to educating and engaging Canadians about the issues and legacies that resonate from Magna Carta, and its companion document, the Charter of the Forest. In commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the issuance of Magna Carta, MCC will bring both iconic documents from England to Canada for a national exhibition. A companion book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada, and national education program are also part of this initiative. Magna Carta Canada is generously supported by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta and RBC Foundation.

For more information, please visit: www.magnacartacanada.ca

Justin Zimmerman    6/21/2015


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