Ellen White scored a last-minute goal as England christened the first international to be played at New York Stadium with a victory.
The striker met a delightful cross to give Hope Powell’s side a deserved win, their third in five matches against Canada.
England were quick out of the blocks in front of almost 5,000 spectators and captain Casey Stoney almost got a head to Rachel Yankey’s inswinging corner from six yards.
The Three Lions continued on the front foot and were working the ball into good positions down the right channel but were unable to deliver a telling cross into the box.
Tiffany Cameron had Canada’s first effort on goal after England failed to clear their lines from a deep cross, but the winger’s back-header was comfortably gathered by Bardsley.
Stephanie Houghton, who was Great Britain’s leading goalscorer at the London Olympics, was next to have a shot, but her header was directed straight at the ‘keeper.
Canada had the best opening midway through the first half. After a good passage of play, Cameron was sent through on goal however she could only fire straight at the England goalkeeper from 10 yards.
Houghton tried to break the deadlock with a long range effort that went just over, before Yankey saw her audacious 45-yard free-kick sail into McLeod’s hands.
Christine Sinclair went close for the visitors five minutes after the interval when she met an inswinging corner from the right and forced Bardsley into a smart save down to her right.
The game was starting to open up and Asante should have done better when she was afforded time and space on the edge-of-the-area. The ball was played back to the Gothenburg player but she lifted her shot over the crossbar.
Seconds after her introduction, Jordan Nobbs almost got the game’s first goal but her shot from 18 yards went just over. Two minutes later the hosts should have taken the lead.
The ball was played to White, who found space inside the area, but she shot straight at the onrushing McLeod before the rebound was fired over by Fara Williams.
Toni Duggan almost made an immediate impact from the bench with two chances in quick succession. First she fired well wide when positioned just inside the box, whilst her dipping volley went narrowly over.
Seconds before the game moved towards additional time, White got her head to Houghton’s cross and diverted the ball past the ‘keeper to give the Three Lions a thoroughly deserved win.
England: Bardsley, A Scott, Houghton, Asante, Bradley, Stoney(c), Aluko, J Scott, White, Williams, Yankey.
Subs: Susi, Brown, Bassett, Clarke, Nobbs, Duggan, Bonner, Williams, Chamberlain, Moore, Harrop
Canada: McLeod, Cameron, Moscato, Kyle, Wilkinson, Scott, Sinclair(c), Schmidt, Buchanan, Sjoman.
Subs: Zurrer, Gayle, Lawrence, Sesselmann, Leon, Fligno, Robinson, Stweart, LeBlance.