IMAX – the large screens and immersive movie-watching experience that has become the standard for movie-goers around the world. Many of you know that IMAX is a Canadian invention, and like the Canadarm, it has helped give Canada a “technologically advanced” reputation. What many of you may not know is that IMAX has a small Toronto connection….

It all started in 1967, when a group of experimental filmmakers got together to produce a multi-screen film installation for Expo ’67 in Montreal. Labyrinth directed by Roman Kroitor and Polar Life: Man the Explorer directed by Graeme Ferguson were two of the most popular installations at the fair. However, each had its short-comings.

After Expo ’67, Graeme Ferguson and Roman Kroitor got together with William Shaw and Robert Kerr to work on a large format projector and screen system that combined their technologies and expertise…..and IMAX was born.

IMAX, short for Image Maximum, premiered at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. Tiger Child was shown at this fair, making it the first IMAX film. In 1971, the first permanent IMAX projection system was installed at Ontario Place’s Cinesphere in Toronto. Several years later, in 1994, IMAX went public, and entered the era of digital re-mastered films and major blockbusters that we are in today.

So what is this Toronto connection? You see, Graeme Ferguson and Roman Kroitor were related (brothers-in-law) and Graeme Ferguson went to the University of Toronto. It was at U of T (in Toronto), that he joined a film club and became interested in film technology, and went on to invent the large format single projector system that IMAX uses. While Graeme Ferguson studied economics and political science at Victoria College, William Shaw (one of the other IMAX inventors) was studying Engineering at the University of Toronto. Lastly, the installation of the first IMAX system in Ontario Place also took place in Toronto.

And that is how IMAX has a small Toronto connection.