Tracking the transformation of famous Canadian landmarks with Google Earth
Guests gather at the grand opening of the Canadian Museum For Human Rights in Winnipeg on September 17, 2014. (John Woods/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, November 27, 2015 6:00AM EST
It's been more than ten years since Google Earth first began capturing satellite images of Canadian cities.
Today, a virtual trip back in time shows how some of the country's most prominent landmarks have evolved.
Here's a bird's-eye look at three of those transformations, using historical imagery from Google Earth.
Olympic Village, Vancouver, B.C.
Google Earth images from 2000 show an undeveloped plot of land along Vancouver's False Creek.
But zoom forward five years, to 2007, and the area is a hive of construction as the city prepares to welcome athletes for the 2010 Winter Games.
Olympic village construction launched in 2006, and in satellite images from 2007, viewers can clearly see tracks made by construction vehicles winding through a rare Vancouver snowfall.
In the most recent images, from October, 2015, the fully-developed Olympic Village is visible.
The complex, which housed thousands of athletes in 2010, is now home to a community centre, a number of trendy restaurants, and newly-converted condos. It also features a waterfront walkway and a man-made island, called Habitat Island.
Tourism Vancouver Communications Manager Amber Sessions said new Olympic attractions have benefited both locals and tourists in the city.
"There was that beautiful new section of seawall added around False Creek (by the Olympic Village), which tourists certainly enjoy," she told CTVNews.ca.
And, she said, the Olympic Cauldron and revamped B.C. Place stadium have also drawn in travellers.
The changes to the stadium allowed the city to host big events, such as the FIFA Women's World Cup, she said. And Sessions said the cauldron "has become a real focal point for people who want to have that Olympic experience."
"We definitely have more visitors now than we did before the Olympics," she said.
The CN tower and surrounding area, Toronto, Ont.
While the CN Tower has stood as one of Canada's most famous landmarks since 1976, the area surrounding the tower has changed since 2002.
In earlier images from Google Earth, such as this one from 2007, a grassy park area surrounds the tower's base.
Then, the tower gets a new neighbour.
In this 2012 image, the new Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is seen under construction.
And in images from 2015, the aquarium is finished, complete with a pair of painted sharks swimming on the roof.
Opened in 2013, the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is home to more than 16,000 aquatic animals, including species from the nearby Great Lakes Basin. The aquarium has nine galleries for visitors to tour.
And while the aquarium is the most obvious change when looking at the Google Earth images, the entire neighbourhood has recently seen an explosion in growth, Toronto Tourism Vice President Andrew Weir said.
"It really has been an amazing growth story," he said in a phone interview. "The area even has a name now: South Core!"
The rapid increase in hotels, bars, restaurants and attractions has been a huge draw to a city where tourism is on the rise, Weir said.
In the last four years, he said Toronto has shattered its own records for number of visitors, and in 2015, tourism from the U.S. grew for the fifth-straight year.
"The South Core now has a real cluster of experiences like the CN Tower, the aquarium, Steam Whistle, the Rogers Centre and the Air Canada Centre," Weir said.
"This kind of intensification within our core areas really helps show new experiences to visitors and helps them come (to Toronto) the first time and then come back again."
The Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg, Man.
A 2002 Google Earth image shows an empty space beside Winnipeg's Red River.
Eight years later, a 2010 image shows construction in the same site, and landscaping along the shore.
Then, in 2015, viewers can see the unique architecture of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
Designed by American architect Antoine Predock, the building has "revolutionized the skyline of downtown Winnipeg," said Angela Cassie, the museum's director of communications and external relations.
"What's significant about the architecture is that there's very rich human rights symbolism built into every component of the physical building," she told CTVNews.ca.
Visitors enter the building beside a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and trace their way through six levels of exhibits and 11 different galleries. According to the museum, the journey through the building is meant to take guests on a journey through human rights history, "from darkness to light."
The attraction is the country's only museum dedicated to documenting and preserving human rights.
And, Cassie said, it's been a major draw for tourists coming to Winnipeg.
According to Cassie, the city has seen a significant increase in tourism in the past 14 months. And in September, Air Canada's enRoute magazine named the museum as one of the world's "coolest new museums."
"Certainly, having an iconic world class institution such as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is putting Winnipeg, Manitoba, on a world map in a way that it wasn't previously considered," she said.