RPM Magazine polled its readers to determine the best artists and groups in Canada.
Each December, the magazine published the results.
Record-label owner Stan Klees met with RPM founder Walt Grealis to plan a formal awards ceremony for the music industry. Instead of merely publishing the award results in RPM, presentations would be made at a physical venue. The first official Gold Leaf Awards ceremony took place February 23, 1970 in Toronto.
Later that year, RPM invited its readers to suggest a new name for these awards. “Juneau” was submitted, in honour of Pierre Juneau, the first head of the Canadian Radio-Television Commission and instrumental in establishing Canadian content regulations for broadcasters, to promote Canadian artists. By 1971, the moniker was shortened and the awards ceremonies became the Juno Awards.
From 1970 to 1973, winners’ names were published in RPM prior to the awards night; from 1974 the winners were not made public until the ceremonies. In 1974, music industry representatives formed an advisory committee for the Junos in, which became the Canadian Music Awards Association the following year. The association assumed full management and operation of the Juno Awards from 1977, changing its name to the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).
The Junos were first televised throughout Canada in 1975 on CBC Television.
Initially, the awards were held during the early part the year. In 1984, organizers postponed the awards until December. In January 1988, in response to declining viewership, CARAS rescheduled the Juno broadcasts to earlier in the year. This meant that postponing the awards until March 12, 1989, therefore leaving the 1988 calendar year without a ceremony.
In 1996, Oh What A Feeling: A Vital Collection Of Canadian Music was released as a four-CD box set to mark the Juno Awards’ 25th anniversary. It featured popular songs by Canadian artists from the 1960s to 1990s. In 2001, a second four-CD box set was released to celebrate the awards’ 30th anniversary. In 2006, a third box set was released to celebrate the 35th anniversary.
Broadcast rights to the Juno Awards were transferred from CBC to CTV for the 2002 ceremonies. In 2006, Junos were broadcast for the first time internationally by MTV2 in the United States and several affiliated MTV channels worldwide, making the telecast available to approximately 250 million people.
That same year, Bruce Cockburn was honoured with the inaugural Humanitarian Award.
At the 2007 ceremony, host Nelly Furtado made Juno history by being the first artist to win every award for which she was nominated, including the two most prestigious honours: Album of the Year and Artist of the Year.