The GNCTR began in 1974, as a joint venture between the American Concrete Institute and the University of Alberta. The event was created as a Canadian version of the American Concrete Canoe race.
The first race took place on March 1, 1975, and featured several entries each from the University of Alberta, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR), hosted annually by a Canadian University, challenges its participants to use creativity, skill, and innovation in the design and construction of a concrete toboggan. The winner of the competition, judged primarily on design, speed, and display, gains international recognition and bragging rights as the #1 GNCTR team in Canada.