List of Canadian Rock Music Groups

Rock Concert
Rush 2010

Many popular rock groups over the decades have hailed from Canada, several of which people may not even know are Canadian. The genres of music explored by these groups varies considerably, from more independent style rock to country rock, heavy metal to electronica. Given this range of talent and variety of styles, it's not surprising that some of the best rock songs of all time are by Canadian artists.

Famous Canadian Rock Bands, Past and Present

The following list of Canadian rock bands is certainly not exhaustive, nor can it be, but it does give a good representation of what the Canadian rock music scene has been able to produce over the years. It should be noted that this list contains only rock groups and not solo artists, which would be an entirely different list.

  • Alexisonfire: The Juno Award-winning quintet from St. Catharines, Ontario is best known for songs like This Could Be Anywhere in the World and Young Cardinals. Band member Dallas Green is also behind the group City and Colour.
  • Arcade Fire: While technically forming in 2001, it wasn't until Arcade Fire released its The Suburbs album that the band exploded onto the Canadian rock scene. A single called Abraham's Daughter was also recorded for The Hunger Games official soundtrack in 2012.
  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive: Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Canadian rock band emerged on the scene in the 1970s with five Top 40 albums and six Top 40 singles, including Let It Ride, Takin' Care of Business, and You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet.
  • Barenaked Ladies: Having sold over 14 million records to date, the Barenaked Ladies are known for their fun and light-hearted sound with such songs as If I Had $1000000 and One Week. The band also wrote and recorded the theme song for The Big Bang Theory television series.
  • Billy Talent: The Mississauga-based punk rock band struggled for nearly a decade before achieving mainstream success in the early 2000s with hits like Devil in a Midnight Mass. A lesser known fact is that the band called itself Pezz for the first six years of its existence.
    Blue Rodeo Juno awards 2010
    Blue Rodeo 2010
  • Blue Rodeo: This country rock band from Toronto has released a dozen studio albums in its nearly 30 year history, and their songs have also been featured prominently in several Canadian TV shows and films, including dueSouth and Corner Gas.
  • Broken Social Scene: While it may not be the biggest in terms of popularity or sales, Broken Social Scene is arguably one of the largest Canadian rock bands in that it has featured up to as many as nineteen members at one time. Its most successful album, Forgiveness Rock Record, peaked at the first spot on the Canadian charts in 2010.
  • Dragonette: This electropop band is oftentimes associated more with London, UK as that is where it recorded and released its debut album Galore in 2007, but the band was originally formed in Toronto, Ontario in 2005.
  • 54-40: With a history that extends back to 1981, 54-40 is a Canadian rock music institution. Some of its most successful singles include One Day in Your Life and Lies to Me.
  • Finger Eleven: The song that arguably put this Burlington, Ontario-based rock band on the mainstream music map is One Thing from 2003. That track peaked at number one on the Canadian charts and number 16 on the US Pop charts.
  • Glass Tiger: Best known for its breakout hit Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone) in 1986, which hit number 2 on the US charts and number one on Canadian charts, the Canadian rock group went on to release a total of six studio albums, including the No Turning Back: 1985-2005 compilation album.
  • Great Big Sea: A folk-rock band originally from Newfoundland and Labrador, Great Big Sea derives much of its inspiration from the area's Irish and Scottish maritime heritage. Some of the band's most popular songs include Fast as I Can, Ordinary Day and End of the World.
  • The Guess Who: Earning international acclaim for such legendary tracks as American Woman and These Eyes, The Guess Who formed in Winnipeg, Manitoba in the late 1960s. This followed the band's very early start as Chad Allan & the Reflections in 1962.
  • Headstones: Featuring Hugh Dillon on vocals, Headstones formed in 1987 as an alternative rock band with a punk twist. The band released five studio albums in the '90s and into the early 2000s, before disbanding and re-uniting to release their most successful album, Love + Fury, in 2013.
    Heart in concert Naperville Ribfest 2007
    Heart 2007
  • Heart: Although the band members from Heart are originally from Bothell, Washington just outside of Seattle, the rock group achieved far more mainstream success after making the move north to Vancouver. Among the near 40-year history of the band are such hits as Barracuda, All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You, and Tell It Like It Is.
  • Hedley: Originally from Abbotsford, BC and forming in Vancouver in 2003, the punk and alternative rock band has had several top 10 hits in its relatively short career, like On My Own, Never Too Late, and Kiss You Inside Out, the last of which reached Canadian triple Platinum status in 2012.
  • Loverboy: Few people know that this iconic 1980s rock band actually hailed from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. As with so many other bands, Loverboy's biggest hit was also its first: Turn Me Loose in 1981 from their self-titled album Loverboy.
  • Matthew Good Band: In addition to lead vocalist and lead guitar Matthew Good, the band also comprises Dave Genn, Ian Browne and Geoff Lloyd. It is one of the most successful Canadian rock bands from the 1990s, winning the Best Rock Album Juno Award in 2000.
  • Metric: The Toronto-based indie rock band is best recognized by lead singer Emily Haines, who also plays synthesizers, guitar, tambourine, piano and harmonica. The song Black Sheep was featured on the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World official movie soundtrack. Emily Haines is also a sometime member of Broken Social Scene.
    Neil Young 2001
    Neil Young 2001
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Iconic rock legend Neil Young was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1945, forming Crazy Horse with Danny Whitten, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina in 1969. Neil Young is best known for his solo career, however.
  • Nickelback: Having sold over 50 million albums around the world during is 20-year history, Nickelback is one of the most commercially successful Canadian rock bands of all time. Chart-toppers include How You Remind Me and Photograph.
  • Our Lady Peace: The Toronto-based alternative rock band enjoyed the majority of its mainstream success in the 1990s with such songs as Clumsy and Superman's Dead. OLP, as they are known, holds the honor of winning the most MuchMusic Video Awards of all-time with ten.
  • Prozzak: To say that Prozzak is unique would be an understatement. This "virtual" rock band was formed by Jay Levine and James Bryan McCollum, though the band itself consisted of digital characters Simon and Milo. In its relatively short seven-year history, Prozzak released such songs as Sucks to Be You and It's Not Me It's You.
  • Rush: Few rock bands have achieved the same level of international acclaim as this one from Toronto, Ontario. Rush has been inducted in both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, belting out hit after hit since the the mid 1970s. Some of their best-known songs include Tom Sawyer and New World Man.
  • The Sheepdogs: While independently active since 2006, it wasn't until The Sheepdogs won the Choose the Cover competition with Rolling Stone magazine in 2011 that the Saskatoon-based rock band arrived on the mainstream scene. The biggest hit to date is Feeling Good from the self-titled album in 2012, reaching the number one spot on the Canadian Rock charts.
  • Steppenwolf: Credited with one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time with Born to Be Wild, Steppenwolf is both a Canadian and an American rock group (with members from both countries) achieving its greatest success in the 1960s and 1970s. Other Top 40 hits include Rock Me and Magic Carpet Ride.
  • The Tragically Hip: Nine of The Hip's 12 studio albums and two live albums have reached number one in Canada. With huge songs like New Orleans is Sinking and Ahead by a Century, The Tragically Hip have won a total of 14 Juno Awards to date.

The Future of Canadian Rock

With a strong rock music heritage that extends back several decades and with several rising stars in more recent years, Canadian rock has both a very bright future ahead of it and a strong past of which it can be very proud. Artists and music lovers from all provinces and territories have a rich talent pool from which to draw their inspiration.

Was this page useful?
Related & Popular
List of Canadian Rock Music Groups