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Feature of the Week: The Titanic underwater

In 2005, Ryerson Library Special Collections received a substantial donation of audiovisual material from Dr. Joe MacInnis.  For 30 years, the Canadian physician and explorer has studied the human effects of working deep underwater and has organized dives in the Great Lakes, the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic Ocean.

In addition to being a medical consultant to the US Navy, contributing to the development of Canada’s first ocean’s policy, working with the construction team on the world’s first undersea polar station (the Sub-Igloo) and leading the team that discovered the HMS Breadalbane and filmed the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, MacInnis helped lead the filming of history’s most famous shipwreck, the Titanic.

MacInnis made two dives to the bow and stern of the Titanic between 1985 and 1991, and was co-leader of the two million dollar project to film the ship in IMAX format.  In 2005, he joined James Cameron on a dive that produced a 90 minute live broadcast from some of the last unseen rooms of the ship.

The donated collection includes; 804 videocassettes, 144 sound recordings, 11 motion pictures, and 3 video reels.  As the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, Special Collections has been working on digitizing and cataloguing the collection to preserve the many hours of original raw footage, and newscasts about the pioneering dives.

To view some of the digitized files, make an appointment at Special Collections by sending an email to: For more information on MacInnis, check out these library sources:

MacInnis, Joe, 1937- Title Breathing underwater : the quest to live in the sea / Joe MacInnis. Publisher Toronto : Viking Canada, c2004.

MacInnis, Joe, 1937- Title Fitzgerald’s storm : the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald / Joseph MacInnis. Publisher Toronto : Macmillan Canada, c1997.


Still images from: “Titanic d edit left #2 [unedited]” Invisible Media, c. 1991 MacInnis Audiovisual Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Library Special Collections.

Dr. Joe MacInnis: Physician, explorer, motivational speaker and author. Dr. Joe McInnis, n.d. 17 Mar. 2011.