© CSIRO 2015. In this study, 137 canola (Brassica napus L.) accessions were evaluated for germination speed, which is a critical character in the plant life cycle. The accessions were grouped into three categories, fast (F), medium, and slow (S), with nine category F (7%) and 12 category S (9%) germination accessions identified and validated in repeated Petri dish and pot experiments. Although accessions in category F showed significantly faster germination and emergence than those in category S, seedling growth parameters did not differ greatly. Based on germination speed and seedling characteristics, four accessions with high early vigour and four with low early vigour were identified. Seed germination speed was not affected by seed weight and was not simply controlled by gibberellic acid and abscisic acid, but 10% smoke water significantly delayed seed germination. The identified accessions with contrasting early vigour can be used to study the genetic and molecular mechanism of seed germination and seedling development and to breed superior canola cultivars.