10 Best Football Colleges in Canada in 2024

Football colleges in Canada combine academics and sporting activities, creating a delicate balance between sporting and intellectual learning.

Canada is one of North America’s most well-known educational and industrial countries, with state-of-the-art educational facilities, football academies, and renowned research centers.

Student-athletes and football enthusiasts passionate about college sports and football understand the need to attend good football colleges and universities.

Applying to a football college provides student-athletes with the opportunity to compete at a higher level of intercollegiate competitions, which in turn serves as a stepping stone to their football dreams of playing for notable football clubs in Canada.

Whether you are a student-athlete thinking of college for the first time, advancing from junior colleges, or relocating to Canada, this article will help you achieve your academic and career goals by providing you with information on the best colleges and universities for football in Canada.

Does Canada Have Football Colleges?

Canada has the largest college athletic teams in the country. These Canadian colleges and universities compete against other varsity teams in football within and outside the country. 

Out of 51 major institutions, 27 universities and colleges across Canada compete in the football game under U Sports, formerly known as Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).

Some of Canada’s football colleges and universities are St. Francis Xavier University, the University of Saskatchewan, British Columbia Institute, Alberta University, and the University of Regina.

Also Read, 10 Best Football Colleges in Illinois

How Many Football College Teams in Canada?

U Sports football is the highest level of amateur football played by the varsity sports teams in Canada.

Twenty-seven (27) college football teams from Canadian universities are in the country. These college football teams are known for their outstanding performances in competitive sports.

Some of the best college football teams include

  • British Columbia Thunderbirds
  • Alberta Golden Bears
  • University of Saskatchewan Huskie
  • York University Lions
  • University of Ottawa Gee-Gees
  • University of Regina Rams
  • Western Ontario Mustangs

Does Canada Have Ivy League Schools?

Unfortunately, there are none of the Ivy League schools located in Canada. The eight (8) members of the Ivy League are all in the United States.

The Ivy League Schools are prestigious not because of their location but for having excellent research centers, outstanding academic performances, and passionate students. 

Using those metrics, Canada has many colleges and universities that are not just outstanding but agreeably better than most universities in any part of the United States. 

Here’s a list of the best colleges and universities in Canada that are part of the U15, a group of Canadian universities equivalent to the Ivy League Schools renowned for their scholarly research.

  • University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON
  • University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON
  • The University of Calgary, Calgary, AB
  • Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
  • University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
  • University of Montreal, Montreal, QC
  • McMaster University, Hamilton, ON
  • University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
  • McGill University, Montreal, QC

What are the Best Football Colleges in Canada?

Every student-athlete’s dream college usually revolves around colleges and universities that prioritize academic, social, and football career development.

Out of the twenty-seven (27) football colleges and universities that participate actively in high-level sporting activities, we have curated a list of the top ten (10) football colleges in Canada.

Without delay, in no particular order, here are the 10 best football colleges in Canada.

1. University of Saskatchewan

Established on March 19, 1907, the University of Saskatchewan is the largest educational institution in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The University is also one of Canada’s top research universities and a member of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities.

The Huskie is the athletic team of the university. They compete in elite inter-university competitions by U Sports and its members at regional bases and as individual institutions.

The Huskies are successively one of the best sports universities in Canada. The football team is recognized as one of the best programs in U Sports as it has won the Vanier Cup as National Champions 3 times and has been runners-up on 6 occasions.

Both the football and soccer teams play their home games at Griffiths Stadium. The team’s official colors are green and white, with Howler, the Huskie, as the team’s mascot.

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2. U.B.C

This is one of Canada’s top three (3) universities. Established in 1908, it is British Columbia’s oldest university. 

The Thunderbirds are the sports team that represents University football in school. Also, the Thunderbirds are the most successful athletic program in the intercollegiate competition regionally in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association and nationally in U Sports.

The university’s football team plays its home game at the Thunderbird Stadium; the official uniform colors are blue and gold. The mascot’s name is Thunder.

The UBC Thunderbirds football team has won the Canada West University Athletic Association (CWUAA) Hardy Trophy conference championship 16 times. On a national level, the team has won the Vanier Cup championship four times.

The Thunderbirds program has also yielded three Hec Crighton Trophy winners: Jordan Gagner, Mark Nohra, and Billy Greene.

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3. St. Francis Xavier University

Home to the X-Men and X-Women, St. Francis Xavier University is one of the best universities with a good football program. The University is situated in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada and is a member of the Maple League, a group of mainly undergraduate universities in Eastern Canada.

St. Francis Xavier is represented in the Atlantic University Sport conference by 12 varsity athletics teams. The X-Men football program has been in operation since 1954. They were the first Atlantic conference team to win a Vanier Cup national championship in 1966. The team has won 13 Jewett Trophy conference championships.

St. Francis Xavier offers over $2 million annually in merit-based scholarships and financial aid to its new and current undergraduates.

StFX Stadium, formerly known as Oland Stadium, is the home field for the football team. The official colors are blue and white.

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4. University of Toronto

This is a top-ranked University institute situated in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King’s College, and it is the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada.

The Varsity Blues are the athletic team representing the university in intercollegiate league matches, primarily within U Sports, with ties to gridiron football, rowing, and ice hockey. 

The main leagues in which the Blues participate are U Sports for national competitions and the auxiliary Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference at the provincial level. 

Blues have won four Grey Cups, two Vanier Cups, and 25 Yates Cup championships, including the inaugural championships for all three trophies.[148] However, the football team

The school’s uniform colors are blue, and the mascot’s name is True Blue, the Beaver.

Its alumni include three Governors General of Canada, five Prime Ministers of Canada, nine foreign leaders, and seventeen justices of the Supreme Court of Canada.

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5. University of Alberta

Established in 1908 by Alexander Cameron, Alberta’s Uni is among the top five (5) Canadian universities in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 

The Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas are the athletic team that represents Alberta in intercollegiate competition. The university’s athletic team has won a total of 93 national championships, including 79 U Sports-sanctioned sports, making it one of the most successful programs in the country, a dream for many universities in the country.

The official colors for the athletic team’s uniform are green and gold, and the mascot’s name is GUBA ( Great University Bear of Alberta).

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6. University of Calgary 

As a member of the U15, Calgary is also one of Canada’s top research universities located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The university has a sponsored research revenue of $380.4 million, with total revenues exceeding $1.2 billion.

The Dinos are the sports teams that represent the University in the Canada West, a division of U Sports, and in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. 

The football team plays home matches at McMahon Stadium, home of CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. It has won the Vanier Cup on five occasions. Rex the Tyrannosaurus is the Mascot, and the official colors are red, and gold 

This University offers many scholarships, awards, and bursaries to students

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7. University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba is the first university in Western Canada and is also a member of the U15 Group of research-intensive universities in Canada.

The Bisons are the university’s athletic teams representing the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The football team plays its games at Investors Group Field. 

The Manitoba Bisons represent the team in athletics as a member of U Sports and the Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA).  The Bisons have won three Vanier Cup national championships and 11 Hardy Trophy Conference Championships.

Notable players include Israel Idonije and David Onyemata. The school’s uniform colors are brown and gold, and the mascot’s name is Billy the Bison.

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8. University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa is the largest English-French bilingual public university in the world, established in 1848 and situated in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

One notable feature of the school is the University of Ottawa’s library includes 12 branches, holding a collection of over 4.5 million titles. In addition, the university is a member of the Canadian U15 group of research-intensive universities, with a research income of CA$324.581.

The university’s athletic teams are known as the Gee-Gees and are members of U Sports. The official colors are Garnet and grey.

The Gee-Gees won the Vanier Cup 2 times. The Gee-Gees women’s rugby team won the national championship in 2017.

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9. Queen’s University

This is one of the best universities in Canada. Queen’s University, established on 16 October 1841, is a public research university in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

In 1869, Queen’s was the first Canadian university west of the Maritime provinces to admit women. 

The Gaels are the athletics team program representing Queen’s University at Kingston in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The team colors are blue, red, and gold. The main athletics facilities include Richardson Memorial Stadium, the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre, Nixon Field, and Tindall Field.

The Gaels football team is one of Canada’s oldest and most successful, including three straight Grey Cup victories and four Vanier Cup victories. 

The fight song is Oil Thigh, written in 1891, and features Gaelic lyrics that can be heard at many sporting events. The mascot is Boo Hoo the Bear.

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10. University of Guelph

Founded in 1964, The university is a public research institute represented in the Ontario University Athletics and the Canadian Interuniversity Sport by the Guelph Gryphons. 

The official athletic team’s colors are red, black, and yellow or gold. The mascot is a Gryphon named Gryph. The university offers 15 varsity sports for men and 15 for women. 

The Gryphon’s men’s football team won only one national championship in 1984. The Gryphons are particularly well known for their exploits in athletics, having won the men’s and women’s cross-country titles consecutively six and seven times, respectively.

Alumni Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium home to the Guelph Gryphons varsity football team. It has a seating capacity of 8,500.

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What are the Division 1 (d1) Football Colleges in Canada?

The Canadian system for football is quite different from the United States. U Sports football is the highest level of amateur play of Canadian football and operates under U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport). 

Twenty-seven (27) football teams from Canadian universities are divided into four athletic conferences, spanning the four regional associations of U Sports: Canada West Universities Athletic Association, Ontario University Athletics, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, and Atlantic University Sport. 

Like the D1 schools of the NCCA, colleges and universities that fall under this category in Canada have the largest athletic department budgets, and their sports teams generate the most revenue. 

Here’s a list of the D1 schools in Canada.

In Alberta

  • Location: Edmonton
  • Team: Golden Bears
  • Conference: Canada West Football 

In British Columbia 

  • Location: Vancouver
  • Team: Thunderbirds
  • Conference: Canada West Football

For Calgary 

  • Location: Calgary 
  • Team: Dinos
  • Conference: Canada West Football

For Toronto

  • Location: Toronto
  • Team: Varsity Blues
  • Conference: Ontario University Athletics

University of Western Ontario

  • Location: London
  • Team: Mustang
  • Conference: Ontario University Athletics

McGill University

  • Location: Montreal
  • Team: Redbirds
  • Conférence: Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec

Université de Montréal 

  • Location: Montreal 
  • Team: Carabins
  • Conférence: Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec

Mount Allison University

  • Location: Sackville
  • Team: Mounties
  • Conference: Atlantic University Football 

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What are the Division 2 (d2) Football Colleges in Canada?

Division 2 football colleges are at the intermediate level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The equivalent of the NCAA is the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) which serves as the national governing body for organized sports at the collegiate level in Canada. 

However, Simon Fraser University is Canada’s first and only university to participate in the NCAA Division 2 level.

Some CCAA schools include Cégep de l’Outaouais, Cégep de Victoriaville, and

Cégep de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

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What are the Division 3 (d3) Football Colleges in Canada?

Division 3 is the lowest level in the NCAA since its major activities involve more academic work and fewer playing seasons for student-athletes.

Using the metrics of the NCAA, the CCAA D3 football colleges are as follows;

  • Holland College, Charlottetown
  • Cégep de Chicoutimi, Chicoutimi
  • Collège André-Grasset, Montréal 

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What are the Best Junior Colleges in Canada for Football?

In Canada, Junior colleges are known as community colleges. These colleges are public post-secondary educational institutes that offer various programs for general education requirements, after which you can transfer to a 4-year university to complete your bachelor’s degree.

Here’s a list of some of Canada’s best junior football colleges.

  • Seneca College
  • Humber College
  • Bow Valley College
  • George Brown College
  • Vanier College

Also Read: 10 Best Football Colleges in California

How to Join a Football Club in Canada

Canadian football clubs, like any other football club in the world, are always looking to improve their team performance by recruiting the best talents to help increase their chances of winning in major leagues.

To become a professional football player in Canada, you must have the necessary skills, and you also need to have some form of consistency, team spirit, and determination to succeed.

Here are five (5) ways to join a football club in Canada.

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Join a Scouting system

A scouting system will help look for the top clubs for young athletes. These systems have scouts affiliated with major football clubs around the country and can get any player connected to them.

Young players must register with a good scouting system willing to help them achieve their dreams. However, you should be aware that so many fraudulent scouts are itching to exploit naive athletes.

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Get a Football Agent

Football agents across Canada are affiliated with clubs, including teams outside the country. If you can sign a contract with an agent, there’s an assurance for you when it comes to clubs reaching out to you.

However, the downside of football agents is that they are quite expensive to maintain, which could become challenging.

Also, it would be best if you contracted with a well-established football agent to avoid issues. Some agents in Canada include Octagon, Axia Sports Management, Prosport Management, and Remington Ellis Management.

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Attend a Football College and Universities.

Canada has twenty-seven (27) colleges and universities affiliated with the game of football. These institutions will be a starting ground for young athletes who intend to become professional footballers.

During High-level competition, scouts are searching closely for players who would be offered an opportunity to join a football club in Canada. 

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Open Day Tryouts

You can join a football club in Canada through Open Day tryouts across the country. These tryouts are organized frequently as clubs always search for new players.

These open-day tryouts are usually free, but in some cases, they may charge a little for the registration fee.

Open-day tryouts allow you to showcase your abilities as a football player in front of scouts, local teams affiliated with top clubs, and representatives from top clubs across the country.

Also Read: 10 Best Football Colleges in Virginia

Approach football clubs directly.

Young athletes can contact the football club of their choice directly by sending emails to the club or by visiting the teams during training hours. 

Also, you can establish connections with team trainers, managers, agents, and coaches to discuss your intentions to join the team.


Canada, like other countries, has a unique identity in the game of football. In Canada, the term “football” may refer to Canadian football, known as gridiron football, and American football collectively.

Football colleges are ideal for students who intend to build their football careers in the long run. Aside from receiving a quality college education, football colleges provide students with the opportunity to socialize and experience competitive games.

When applying to these football colleges and universities, student-athletes should understand certain terminologies to avoid making wrong choices.

Another Interesting Read: 10 Best Football Colleges in Colorado

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Football Colleges are in Canada?

There are twenty-seven (27) football colleges and universities in Canada.

Which Canadian School Belongs to the NCAA?

Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, is the only institution that belongs to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

What is Canada’s Version of the NCAA?

The equivalent body for organized sports at colleges in Canada is the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).

Is Queen’s University a Member of the Ivy League?

Queen’s University is not a member of the Ivy League schools.


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