New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Elizabeth Lee (Owen) Macdonald

Prince Edward Island Magazine 2My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is a profile of a little known Mother of Confederation. Elizabeth Lee (Owen) Macdonald was born into one of Prince Edward Island’s elite families and married Andrew Archibald Macdonald, a Father of Confederation. She assumed leadership positions in both Island society and women’s organizations within the Church of England. In later life, she wrote a nine-part series of articles on local history titled “Charlottetown Fifty Years Ago” for Prince Edward Island Magazine.

Click here to read my article on Elizabeth Lee (Owen) Macdonald in the Canadian Encyclopedia

New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Mercy Anne Coles

Mercy Coles

Mercy Coles

My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is about Mercy Anne Coles, a diarist and one of the key witnesses to the negotiations that preceded Canada’s Confederation in 1867. Mercy Coles was one of the daughters of George Coles, the first premier of Prince Edward Island. She attended the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences with her parents. Her diary, Reminiscences of Canada in 1864, is one of the most detailed sources about the events that preceded Confederation. The diary includes descriptions of the Fathers of Confederation and their personalities and brings light to the social politics of mid-19th-century Canada.

Click here to read my article about Mercy Coles in the Canadian Encyclopedia

Interview: The Great Kate Debate: Is it Kate Middleton or HRH The Duchess of Cambridge?

Prince Harry and Kate Middleton (later the Duchess of Cambridge) attending Prince William's 2008 Investiture into the Order of the Garter

Prince Harry and Kate Middleton, future Duchess of Cambridge  in 2008 

My interview with Yahoo Shine Canada discusses why the Duchess of Cambridge is still known to much of the public as Kate Middleton more than four years after her marriage to Prince William. I also discuss the history of royal nicknames from what Queen Victoria called the multiple granddaughters who shared her name to Canada’s Princess Pat, as another one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, Princess Patricia of Connaught, became known.

Click here to read “The Great Kate Debate: Is it Kate Middleton or HRH The Duchess of Cambridge?” at Yahoo Shine Canada

My 2015-2016 courses at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

My photo in the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies 2015-2016 course calendar

My photo in the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies 2015-2016 course calendar

Registration is now open for the three eight week courses that I will be teaching during the 2015-2016 academic year at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. There are no prerequisites for arts courses at the School and everyone is welcome to enroll. Here are the course descriptions:

Fall 2015: Magna Carta and the Making of the Modern World 

The year 2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the landmark charter that placed limits on the power of the English king. Neither the king nor his rebel baron opponents necessarily expected its terms to be respected for long. But some of the Magna Carta’s principles – like the right to trial by peers and due process – have become basic to common law. The charter influenced the creation of Parliament and the concept of equality before the law. Later interpretations informed the American and French Revolutions, Canada’s Confederation and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 800th anniversary is being celebrated around the world (a surviving copy of the Magna Carta will be exhibited across Canada). Join Carolyn Harris, author of Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights, and discover the enduring impact of this document on the modern world. Click here to register!

Winter 2016: Artists and Their Royal Patrons

For centuries, artists sought out royal patrons to advance their careers. European monarchs were eager to fill their courts with artists to demonstrate their own acumen and prestige. Through lectures, images and discussions, Carolyn Harris will lead you through a lively exploration of the relations between great artists and their royal patrons. These include Hans Holbein and Henry VIII, Leonardo da Vinci and François I, Anthony van Dyck and Charles I, Peter Paul Rubens and Marie de Medici, and Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun and Marie Antoinette. We will look at Catherine the Great, who helped found the Hermitage Museum, and Queen Elizabeth II, who is appreciated as a “curator monarch” for her part in opening the British Royal Collection to the public. You’ll learn more about the collaboration and tension between royalty and artists that produced some of Europe’s most famous works of art and established collections now featured in great museums around the world. Click here to Register!

Spring 2016: Imperial Spain

Ferdinand and Isabella transformed a united Spain into a world power, sponsoring Columbus’ voyages to the Americas and forming alliances with other European kingdoms. This new Imperial Spain had a dark side: the rise of the Inquisition, the expulsion of Spain’s Jewish population and the exploitation of the native peoples in the colonies. Gold and silver from the Americas made Spain’s rulers the richest in Europe until its Golden Age came to an end with the wars of the 18th century. Join Carolyn Harris and learn about the rise and fall of Imperial Spain and its lessons for politics and international relations today. Click here to Register!

Column in the National Post: Magna Carta established that nobody, not even the king, was above the law of the land


My column in today’s National Post discusses the history of Magna Carta and its continuing influence on politics and law today, including in Canada. King John was the first English monarch to accept limits on his powers imposed by his subjects, beginning the process that the led to the development of constitutional monarchy, Canada’s system of government. The legal rights codified in Magna Carta expanded in the scope during the 13th and 14th centuries. Magna Carta emerged from medieval times as a document that applied to people of varied backgrounds, not just the nobility, informing the Common Law system that would be employed throughout the English speaking world.

Click here to read “Magna Carta established that nobody, not even the king, was above the law of the land” in the National Post

Click here to purchase my book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights

New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

Queen Victoria at the time of her Diamond Jubilee in 1897

Queen Victoria at the time of her Diamond Jubilee in 1897

My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is about Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Queen Victoria (who reigned from 1837–1901) was the first monarch to celebrate 60 years on the throne. Celebrations to honour the grand occasion — the first Diamond Jubilee — showcased the Queen’s role as “mother” of the British Empire and its Dominions, including Canada. Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier led the Canadian delegation to the London ceremonies, while communities across Canada held their own civic celebrations in honour of the Queen.

Click here to read “Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – 1897″ in the Canadian Encyclopedia

Toronto Star Interview: King John known for murder and Magna Carta

My interview with the Toronto Star “King John known for murder and Magna Carta” discussed the notorious King and how his reputation has gone from bad to worse during the centuries following his death. I compare and contrast King John to Richard III, another controversial English king. While there is a debate about whether Richard III was unfairly maligned by Tudor historians, John is consistently presented as a villain in both the history books and popular culture.

Click here to read “King John known for murder and Magna Carta” in the Toronto Star

I also discuss the reputation of Richard I “the Lionheart” in another Toronto Star article, “Ten things you didn’t know about King John and Magna Carta

Click here to purchase my book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights

Radio&TV Interviews for Monday June 15, the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta

Monday June 15 is the 800th anniversary of King John reluctantly affixing his seal to Magna Carta. I will be discussing my book,  Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights, the history of Magna Carta and its impact on the modern world including Canada on radio and TV. Here’s the schedule for Monday:

CBC Syndicated Radio between 6-9am ET

6:00 Windsor
6:40 Ontario
7:00 Kitchener
7:20 Winnipeg
7:40 Edmonton
7:50 Whitehorse
8:10 Victoria
8:20 Saskatoon
8:40 Vancouver

CTV News Channel 11am ET

Newstalk 610CKTB, St. Catherines, 4:15pm ET

All these times are subject to change.

Book Excerpt in the Ottawa Citizen: Magna Carta and Women’s Rights

An excerpt from my book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights about Magna Carta and women’s rights was published in the Ottawa Citizen today as part of a feature issue on the Great Charter. Magna Carta guaranteed noblewomen freedom from forced remarriage during their widowhood and set precedents future legal reforms that improved the position of women in society.

Click here to read “Magna Carta and Women’s Rights” in the Ottawa Citizen

My writing on Magna Carta is also quoted in this Ottawa Citizen article: “Magna Carta: The “essence” of the West or irrelevant scrap of parchment?”

CBC News Interview: Magna Carta: From King John’s lechery and treachery to our liberty

19th century representation of King John accepting Magna Carta in 1215

19th century representation of King John accepting Magna Carta in 1215

My interview with CBC News discusses Magna Carta and the Magna Carta Canada touring exhibition, which begins at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa this week. I talked about a variety of topics related to King John and Magna Carta including why there has only been one English king named John and why there is no mention of Magna Carta in William Shakespeare’s play about King John.

Click here to read Magna Carta: From King John’s lechery and treachery to our liberty at CBC.ca 

Click here to purchase my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights