Mark Sampson’s team had already made history by winning their first World Cup knockout game with victory over Norway last week, but Saturday night’s composed efforts in front of a partisan, 54,000-strong crowd in Vancouver meant there will be an England senior side – men or women – in a World Cup semi-final for the first time in 25 years.
Taylor and Bronze got England off to a perfect start with two goals in three minutes to put England in control and, despite Christine Sinclair’s strike just before the interval, they held on with a battling second-half show.
Cheered on by a vociferous crowd at BC Place, home to the Whitecaps, the hosts almost began in dream fashion. Sinclair played a delightful ball to Melissa Tancredi, who cut inside Claire Rafferty but was unable to direct her curled effort on target.
And they were soon left to rue that miss after a defensive mix-up allowed Jodie Taylor to open the scoring for England in the 11th minute.
Lauren Sesselmann scuffed her pass and Taylor latched on to the loose ball in a flash, taking a touch to give Allysha Chapman the slip before rifling into the bottom-left corner.
And within three minutes England were two up. Fara Williams drifted a free-kick over to the far post and Bronze outmuscled Chapman to head in off the underside of the crossbar.
England almost made it three from another Williams free-kick, but Katie Chapman’s looping header came back off the corner of post and crossbar as Canada scrambled the ball clear.
Canada came on strong towards the end of the first half and pulled a goal back three minutes short of the break.
Sinclair started the move, feeding Ashley Lawrence, who had swivelled away from the defender. Lawrence’s cross was spilled by Karen Bardsley and Sinclair was on hand to poke the ball home.
Canada started the second half strongly and their hopes of a comeback were boosted when Bardsley went down with an eye injury. The Manchester City Women’s keeper was forced to come off, with Arsenal stopper Siobhan Chamberlain coming on to take her place.
But Taylor almost reinstated England’s two-goal advantage when she collected a Karen Carney pass before cutting inside and shooting, drawing a brilliant save from Erin McLeod.
Canada came forward but were lacking quality in the final third as England survived a succession of goalmouth scrambles.
Skipper Steph Houghton then had a rasping effort from a free-kick caught by McLeod as only one goal continued to split the sides heading into the final 15 minutes.
Sinclair had a couple of half-chances either side of a marvellous dribble from substitute Adriana Leon, who went past two England defenders and the goalkeeper but was unable to direct her shot on target
And England managed to hold on for a well-deserved win to become the first senior England team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup since Bobby Robson’s men’s side at Italia ‘90.
They will now play Japan in Wednesday’s semi-final in Edmonton after the reigning champions secured a 1-0 win over a resilient Australia side.
The game looked poised for extra-time until substitute Mana Iwabuchi scrambled home a late winner three minutes from time to keep Japan’s hopes of defending their trophy alive.