After much internal debate about who should be first in the Awesome Canadians series we settled on a name that may not be as predictable or easy as others,  but when it comes to Awesome James Cameron is all that and then some!  The creator of many of the biggest movies the world has ever seen is in a class almost by himself when it comes to clout in Hollywood , but it wasn’t always that way.


August 16 1954 in Kapuskasing Ontario James Francis Cameron,  the eldest of five was born.  He spent his elementary years in Chippawa, Ontario learning about the arts form his mother by following her to museums where he would sketch pictures of  whatever caught his eye, be it a Etruscan helmet, or a mummy.  Always fascinated by engineering and technology Cameron often found himself seeking his fathers attention (an engineer himself) by building things as child.


Cameron’s free time was later spent in the town library reading “a lot of science fiction” blurring his perception between fantasy and reality.  The reality of biology in “science fiction stories about genetic mutations and post-nuclear war environments”  and the fantasy of  “inter-stellar travelling and meeting alien races” had a lasting effect.


Later he majored in physics at California State University, followed by a stint as a truck driver in an attempt to support his screenwriting ambitions.  Landing his first professional film job as art director, miniature set builder, and process projection supervisor of 1980’s Battle Beyond the Stars was just the beginning.


Cameron recalls his “big break”  as coming while doing pick up shots in 1981 for Galaxy of Terror as second unit director. He was shooting scenes of a dismembered arm teeming with maggots (actually meal worms). In order to make them move, he hooked up an AC power cord to the arm, and an unseen assistant would plug it in when the film was rolling. Two producers were passing by, and when Cameron yelled “Action!” the worms began to writhe on cue. When he yelled “Cut!” the worms stopped. The producers were so amazed at his directing prowess that they began talking with him about bigger projects


Later in 1981he debuted as a director with Piranha Part Two: The Spawning, a low budget sequel to the 1978 cult film, Piranha.  Budget limitations forced a crew of mostly Italian immigrants, none of whom spoke English into Cameron’s lap.  Combined with constant disagreements with the producers of the film over what one critic called piranhas that “look as though they had been remaindered from a joke shop”, led to a less than spectacular end result.


Often forgetting about the lackluster debut many consider 1984’s The Terminator as Camerons first endevour.  Cameron wrote and directed  the futuristic action-thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger to rave reviews. “It’s fun“ Cameron says ”to fantasize being a guy who can do whatever he wants. This Terminator guy is indestructible”.


The success of The Terminator spawned the likes of 1986’s hit Aliens, The Abyss in 1989, and the sequal Terminator 2: Judgement Day. True Lies was released in 1994, and was the first departure from real sci-fi for Cameron.  The next would put him in to a new realm of fame.


In 1997, he wrote and directed Titanic, an epic romance on board the famous ship. While editing, Cameron had a razor blade taped to the side of the editing computer with the instructions written underneath: “Use only if film sucks!”. The movie went on to break all box office records and earned eleven Academy Awards. It became the highest grossing movie of all time to that point. .Jokingly Cameron refers to Titanic to as his 190 Million Dollar “Chick Flick”.

Following Titanic was difficult. In 2002 Cameron wrote his own take on Spider Man but was turned down by the studios, who called  it  “too violent”.  Sam Raimi’s version got the green light instead.


A long time advocate of 3D, Cameron felt the technology had advanced to a point where he could utulize it himself.  The release of his visual masterpiece Avatar in 2009 put Cameron back at the top of the Hollywood food chain.  Replacing Titanic as the the highest grossing movie of all time Avatar  also gave Cameron the distiction of being the first director to make two films to have grossed more than $1 billion in the worldwide box office.

In all Cameron’s films, at least one character yells “Go! Go! Go!”, and that’s what he did on March 25th 2012. Cameron reached the bottom of the eleven kilometre deep Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first person to do so in a one-man craft. The Mariana Trench is the deepest known point on Earth. The vehicle in which he descended , the Deep sea Challenger, was designed and built in Sydney, Australia by research and design company Acheron Project Pty Ltd. Cameron is the first person to spend significant time at that depth, having explored the area for three hours after arrival.


Cameron compared the trip to a film (of course), saying “When you’re making a movie, everybody’s read the script and they know what’s going to happen next. When you’re on an expedition, nature hasn’t read the script, the ocean hasn’t read the script, and no one knows what’s going to happen next.”


In 2013 Showtime is set to release a James Cameron produced documentary series on climate change consisting of six to eight one-hour episodes. The longtime environmental advocate will be the executive producer of Years of Living Dangerously. Cameron says “I’m still very committed about raising awareness about the dangers of climate change at a time when there is all the denial and disinformation machinery designed to confuse people and create doubt on an issue about which there is no doubt in the scientific community. We are facing the biggest challenge the human species has ever faced. And we’re all going to have to work together to solve it.“


Lets face it, when discussing Awesome things its hard to exclude Terminator and Avatar, so for that reason alone Cameron could be considered an Awesome Canadian.  Throwing Aliens and (for the ladies) Titanic into the mix, as well as his environmental work and not to mention his star on Canada’s Walk Of Fame Cameron is with out a doubt worthy of the title, Awesome Canadian.