Young James Cameron was a Bookworm and Suburban Adventurer

Young James was fascinated by science fiction, nature and adventures near Niagara Falls.

Young James Cameron (left) excelled at scientific experiments, including building a mouse submarine (right).

Chippawa was a little neighborhood just outside one of the largest natural features on earth, Niagara Falls — so close, in fact, you could hear the distant roar of its water rushing.


In hindsight, it's easy to see how this setting has influenced legendary filmmaker James Cameron, but during his childhood years in suburban Ontario, he was yearning to explore.


Like his father, Philip Cameron, James always had an interest in engineering, even if he didn't know it.


James' experiment in creating a hot air balloon is depicted in the third episode of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON — the award-winning "biopic podcast" series, starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, from filmmaker and journalist Matt Schrader.



BLOCKBUSTER is free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Podcast Miniseries.


Another adventure involved building a submersible housing to place a mouse in, and dropping it into the nearby water — combining James' love of creatures with environmental nature. (No mice were injured in the stunts.)


The hot air balloon stunt, in particular, which became a fire hazard in his neighborhood, later made the news in his town. BLOCKBUSTER reached out to the Niagara Falls Review, which reportedly printed a photograph of the balloon, but the newspaper was unable to locate the microfilm of that print edition.


When not exploring or building, James was a bookworm. He was an avid reader of science fiction and comic books — something his father failed to appreciate much at the time. And when 2001: A Space Odyssey released in 1968, a then teenage James insisted on seeing it multiple times in Toronto. That film would inspire a love of film criticism that would later connect him with two friends that would help launch his own career: Randy Frakes and Bill Wisher.


The story of Young James' hot air balloon is featured in Episode 3 of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON. You can subscribe and listen to BLOCKBUSTER free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, as well as all other platforms.


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