Prior to 2010, the tournament consisted of the top three professional teams in Canada in a home and away series with the top team winning entry into the qualifying stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. These teams were the only Canadian teams in the two top professional soccer leagues, which for 2010 were Major League Soccer and the temporary USSF Division 2 Professional League. The North American Soccer League has since received provisional sanctioning as the new second-division league beginning in 2011.
When FC Edmonton joined the NASL in 2011, the tournament was expanded to include the four most important professional clubs in the country. The tournament now consists of two two-legged semifinals and a two-legged final. In the first semifinal of 2011, Toronto, as reigning champions, was assigned the first-place seed and played Edmonton, which was assigned the fourth seed as newcomers to the tournament. The two remaining teams, Montreal and Vancouver, faced off in the other semifinal. This was to be followed by a one-game final to be hosted by the highest remaining seed; but the Canadian Soccer Association decided to go with a two-legged final instead. The format was repeated in subsequent years with the previous year's league placement being used to seed the teams.
For the 2014 competition, due to the introduction of the Ottawa Fury FC to the NASL, Ottawa and Edmonton will play in a play-off quarter final to see which team makes it to the semi-finals, in which the MLS teams will be introduced. The format will be reviewed for 2015 onward.
The winners of the Canadian Championship are awarded the Voyageurs Cup, a trophy previously awarded to the Canadian USL First Division side with the best regular season record against other Canadian USL-1 teams. The USL was the highest level of Canadian soccer until Toronto FC became the first Canadian club in Major League Soccer.
Statistics for Vancouver Whitecaps FC include the original Vancouver Whitecaps who took part in the tournament in the first 3 editions from 2008 through 2010. This team ceased operations in 2011 and was replaced by a new MLS franchise of the same name and ownership.
In 2012 the Montreal Impact of MLS replaced the former Montreal Impact of the NASL in the Canadian Championship. Statistics include data from both iterations of the Impact.
The George Gross Memorial Trophy was created by the Canadian Soccer Association in 2008 to recognize each tournament's most valuable player. The Trophy is named after the late George Gross, a respected journalist and soccer lover.