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May 28, 2013

The International Angle – Canada


The International Angle – Magna Carta

Len Rodness – Chair, Magna Carta Canada
It is a great pleasure to be invited to write for the UK’s Magna Carta 800th Committee newsletter and report to everyone in the UK and beyond on our plans for marking the 800th Anniversary here in Canada. I know there are a great number of people across the globe who share my passion and understanding of the importance of Magna Carta to all of our lives today.

To give you a little background, Magna Carta Canada is a not-for-profit organization based in Toronto, made up of likeminded volunteers who believe the 800th Anniversary offers us a once in a lifetime opportunity to highlight the importance and relevance of Magna Carta to the people of Canada.

The focus of our plans to commemorate the anniversary is going to be ‘Magna Carta 2015 Canada’, a travelling exhibition of an original copy of Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forests. This is being arranged with the support of our wonderful colleagues at Durham Cathedral, whose copies of both charters will be touring the country for six months in 2015, beginning on July 1 in Ottawa (July 1 is Canada Day, the anniversary of the passing of the British North America Act in 1867, pursuant to which Canada became a country in its own right).

Durham Cathedral is fortunate enough to hold three copies of the Magna Carta, and the copy visiting Canada will be the 1225 version, the first document to be issued voluntarily under the seal of the reigning monarch, King Henry III, and was confirmed by King Edward I in 1297. It will be joined by one of only two surviving copies of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, the first document to include the concept of universal rights.

The intention is for the exhibition to travel across the country, visiting Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Edmonton. The centrepiece will of course be the two charters, which will be displayed in jewel-like cases.

They will be accompanied by interpretative material, displayed in both English and French, focused on the key themes of ‘the History of the Charters’, ‘Beyond Britannia – how the achievements of the charters spread to the Americas’, and ‘Justice Today’, looking at how Magna Carta influences our lives today.

We will also have an 8 minute long high definition film to accompany the exhibition along with various interactive multimedia material, and a 50 page exhibition catalogue.

We are working with Lord Cultural Resources to design and interpret this important story, as well as find suitable venues and supporters for this venture.

It is hugely exciting to be a part of the programme of events marking the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta right around the world and I would welcome any support or comments you may have on our plans and how we could work together to ensure the whole world is aware of the importance of Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest to our day-to-day lives.

I can be contacted through Sir Robert and Mark Gill at the 800th Committee or directly at [email protected] and I look forward to working with everyone during the next two years to make the 800th Anniversary a success in Canada and around the world.



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