Apparently Canada can lay claim to having the first Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) listed on an exchange, back in 1990. A whole lot of nothing happened in the decade following that, but we have some serious momentum now and there are now a handful of ETF companies in Canada offering a broad range of products and I've listed them below. These companies all have ETFs listed on the TSX which means that you can purchase them with Canadian dollars. There are also loads of US ETFs available, but I've not listed them here.
If you are wondering "what is an ETF?" check here for a brief description.
website: Claymore Investments (now redirects to iShares)
Founded in 2005, Claymore is one of the first companies in Canada to offer ETFs. They are a leader in this field as demonstrated by being the first to offer DRIPs (Dividend Reinvestment Plan), PACC (Pre-Authorized Cash Contribution Plan) and SWPs (Systematic Withdrawal Plan) on their ETFs.
Important Update: BlackRock (owner of iShares) bought Claymore Investments in January 2012. It still remains to be seen exactly how this will affect Claymore ETF owners.Claymore ETFs Get Rebranded - MoneySense
iShares is probably the biggest ETF company in Canada. Their most popular ETF (I'm guessing) is XIU - the S&P/TSX 60 Index Fund which commenced in 1999 according to their website.
Horizons is definitely known for their innovative products and thinking out of the box. For example, many of their ETFs give you twice the return (good or bad) of the stocks that the ETF holds (although if holding for more than 1 day, you need to do some serious research first). Most of these ETFs are best left to advanced investors but they do have some ETFs fit for any portfolio.
The Bank of Montreal has recently decided to get in on the ETF action. In 2009 they brought their first ETF on-line and it seems more and more are starting up all the time.
This company has, according to their website, 120 ETFs across the globe. In June 2011 they expanded into TSX listed ETFs.
website: Vanguard Canada
Vanguard Canada has just set up shop in Canada. For now, they have no offerings for a regular Joe investor. You can buy their US products on US exchanges, but as of yet, there are no TSX listed ETFs from Vanguard Canada. Note however that this may be changing very soon....see the article in the Further Related Links and Articles section below.
Vanguard Unveils ETF Suite, Fees - Advisor.ca
RBC filed a preliminary prospectus in July 2011 to introduce new Corporate Bond ETFs. More to come as details emerge. More info can be found here.
Canadian ETFs - Canadian Counch Potato - shows MERs (management expense ratios)
Reading between the lines: The nitty-gritty on ETF payouts - The Globe and Mail
Navigating the deluge of dividend ETFs - Globe and Mail - Nov 2011
Canadian Dividend ETFs - Million Dollar Journey
Covered Call ETFs: Proceed with Caution - Rob Carrick - Globe and Mail