It was donated in 1901 by the Governor-General, Lord Minto. Originally restricted to amateurs, within three years the first under-the-table professional teams were already competing for it. After 1904, with efforts to keep the professionals out of competition proving to be futile, it was made open to all challengers.
The last successful amateur challenge came in 1908 when New Westminster Salmonbellies won it; the last amateur challenge was made in 1913 by Vancouver Athletic Club. This would be the only time in Canadian lacrosse history when the Mann Cup champions (Vancouver) faced the Minto Cup champions (New Westminster) head-to-head – with the silverware (Minto) going to the winner.
With the professionals essentially in control of the cup by 1910, the newly inaugurated Mann Cup became the replacement for the senior men's national amateur championship.
The Minto Cup professional competition was dominated by the New Westminster Salmonbellies, who held the trophy for 21 of the 29 years in which it was contested (the competition was suspended during World War I). 1924 was the last year professionals played for the Minto Cup—after the Coast professional league folded in June 1924, it was then placed into storage and for a time lost and forgotten when the last trustee died. The trophy was located just prior to the 1938 junior competition, underneath a desk in his office. During the trophy's period of inactivity, there were suggestions to make the Minto Cup an international championship trophy.
In 1934 the last trustee appointed to supervise the Cup died, and the Lord Minto of the day eventually transferred it to the Canadian Lacrosse Association, which decided to award it as the trophy for the national junior men's champion, starting in 1937. Originally, the competition was between all-star provincial teams formed by adding players to the provincial champion. In 1960 this practice was abandoned and the trophy has since been competed for by the Junior A provincial champions of British Columbia of the British Columbia Junior A Lacrosse League, Ontario of the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League and recently Alberta, of the RMLL the only provinces where organized lacrosse thrives.
Senior Amateur Champions (1901–1903)
- 1901 Ottawa Capitals - defeated Cornwall
- 1901 Montreal Shamrocks - defeated Ottawa Capitals and Vancouver YMCA
- 1902 Montreal Shamrocks - defeated New Westminster Salmonbellies
- 1903 Montreal Shamrocks - defeated Brantford
Professional/Senior Champions (1904–1908)
- 1904 Montreal Shamrocks - defeated Ottawa Capitals
- 1905 Montreal Shamrocks - defeated St. Catharines Athletics and Souris (Manitoba)
- 1906 Ottawa Capitals - defeated Montreal Shamrocks
- 1907 Montreal Shamrocks - won by default, no challenges
- 1908 New Westminster Salmonbellies - defeated Montreal Shamrocks and Ottawa Capitals
Professional Champions (1909–1924)
- 1909 New Westminster Salmonbellies - defeated Regina Capitals and Toronto Tecumsehs
- 1910 New Westminster Salmonbellies - defeated Montreal Lacrosse Club and Montreal Nationals)
- 1911 Vancouver Lacrosse Club - defeated New Westminster and Toronto Tecumsehs
- 1912 New Westminster Salmonbellies - defeated Cornwall
- 1913 New Westminster Salmonbellies - defeated Vancouver Athletic Club
- 1914 New Westminster Salmonbellies - won by default
- 1915 New Westminster Salmonbellies - defeated Vancouver Lacrosse Club
- 1916 no competition
- 1917 no competition
- 1918 Vancouver "Greenshirts" - claim disputed by New Westminster
- 1919 New Westminster Salmonbellies - defeated Vancouver Terminals
- 1920 Vancouver Terminals - defeated New Westminster
- 1921 New Westminster Salmonbellies defeated Vancouver Terminals
- 1922 New Westminster Salmonbellies defeated Vancouver Terminals
- 1924 New Westminster Salmonbellies - won by default
- 1925–1936 no competition for trophy; placed in storage by Trustee (New Westminster Salmonbellies claims the titles for these years of non-competition)
Junior Champions (1937-Present)
- 1937 Orillia Terriers - defeated Vancouver Burrard Bluebirds
- 1938 Mimico Mountaineers - defeated Richmond-Point Grey Juniors
- 1939 no decision
- 1940 Ontario All-Stars - defeated British Columbia All-Stars
- 1941–1946, no competition
- 1947 St. Catharines Athletics - defeated Vancouver Burrard BC All-Stars
- 1948 Vancouver Burrards - defeated St. Catharines Athletics
- 1949 Vancouver Norburn Eagletime - defeated Ontario All-Stars
- 1950 St. Catharines Athletics - defeated Vancouver Burrard BC All-Stars
- 1951 Mimico Mountaineers - defeated Manitoba All-Stars
- 1952 Brampton Excelsiors - defeated Vancouver Kerrisdale BC All-Stars
- 1953 New Westminster Salmonacs - defeated Long Branch Monarchs
- 1954 Vancouver PNE Junior Indians - defeated Manitoba All-Stars
- 1955 Long Branch Monarchs - defeated Manitoba All-Stars
- 1956 Mount Pleasant (Vancouver) No.177 Legionnaires - defeated Brampton Excelsiors
- 1957 Brampton ABC's - defeated Victoria Shamrocks
- 1958 Brampton ABC's - defeated Victoria Shamrocks
- 1959 Brampton ABC's - defeated New Westminster Salmonbellies
- 1960 New Westminster Salmonbellies - defeated Whitby Red Wings
- 1961 Hastings Legionnaires - defeated Burnaby Norburns
- 1962 Victoria Shamrocks - defeated Brampton Armstrongs
- List of awards presented by the Governor General of Canada
- List of awards named after Governors General of Canada
- "The Minto Cup: Before the Juniors". Old School Lacrosse. 23 March 2014.
- "Durston Wins Second Minto". Chatham-Kent Sports Network. 30 August 2015.
- "Northmen fall to Adanacs in decisive fifth game in Minto Cup finals". Orangeville Banner. 30 August 2016.