History buffs eye Canada's 'birth certificate'

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A star-studded group of history advocates trying to secure an original copy of "Canada's birth certificate" is drawing some inspiration for the patriation project from Australia, where former prime minister Bob Hawke led a controversial — and somewhat underhanded — battle with British archives for his country's founding document 20 years ago.

Canada's former national archivist, Ian Wilson, doesn't expect to precisely emulate the Australian example in the quest he's leading — along with renowned historian Jack Granatstein and bestselling author Charlotte Gray — to liberate the 1867 British North America Act for Canada from a musty storeroom in the British public records office.

That, he says, would involve arranging a loan from the United Kingdom to display the historic artifact for a special occasion — then refusing to give it back afterward.

"It was lent to them in 1988 for a bicentennial exhibit," Wilson says with a chuckle, "and it sounds like they didn't return it."...

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