james cameron ontario

Here's how the Toronto area had a huge part in James Cameron's Titanic and Avatar

Upon watching the 1997 epic Titanic, one would have no idea just how much Southern Ontario influenced the movie's writer, director and producer James Cameron, who was born in Northern Ontario and grew up in the Niagara region.

Yes, while the great filmmaker was conceiving the love story between young Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet aboard the doomed ship in the North Atlantic, his mind was driven by inspiration that came from here in the GTA.

Cameron's obsession with the depths of the ocean was cultivated at the ROM in Toronto, where he had visited and become fascinated with a display of Canada's first underwater research centre, Sublimnos, as a young boy.

After sketching the Sublimnos out front of the museum and even requesting its blueprints, he went on to learn more and design a subsurface station of his own, which he built a mini model of to test out.

Flashing forward nearly 30 years to when Cameron's enthusiasm for the topic was transmuted into the hit feature, which has some very blatant nods to his childhood home.

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The character of Cal(edon) Hockley, Rose's fiancé, comes from Cameron's parents' hometown of Caledon, near Hockley Valley.

Meanwhile, the character Jack Dawson is thought to have garnered his name from a tombstone in the cemetary where many of Cameron's relatives are buried in the Ontario town — as was, many believe, the spark for the idea to create a film about the tragedy, as a stone bearing the name Titanic are visible from where the Camerons are interred.

Ontario's influence can also be felt in other flicks by the esteemed movie maker, including another of his multi-Academy-Award winners, Avatar.

Cameron spent many summers at his grandparents' farm near Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, where the surrounding nature informed his juvenile drawings that later served as the basis for Pandora, the fictional world of the blockbuster.

As Reddit users have pointed out in posts on the topic, the property that was such a part of his formative years was eventually sold and is due to be developed into a gravel quarry — a story that has clear parallels to the plot of Avatar, in which Pandora is at risk of being destroyed for a mining colony.

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Though locals may consider the rolling hills of smalltown Southern Ontario boring at times, the hand the area had in helping such great works of film come to be is pretty amazing.

Lead photo by

Emilie Rhaupp


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