The ancient Laurentian margin rifted in the latest Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian but appears not to have developed as a simple passive margin through a long, post-rift, drift phase. Stratigraphic and conodont biostratigraphic information from four platform-to-basin transects across the margin has advanced our knowledge of the early Paleozoic evolution of the margin. In northeastern British Columbia, two northern transects span the Macdonald Platform to Kechika Trough and Ospika Embayment, and a third transect spans the parautochthonous Cassiar Terrane. In the southern Rocky Mountains, new conodont biostratigraphic data for the Ordovician succession of the Bow Platform is correlated to coeval basinal facies of the White River Trough. In total, from 26 stratigraphic sections, over 25 km of strata were measured and > 1200 conodont samples were collected that yielded over 100 000 conodont elements. Key zonal species were used for regional correlation of uppermost Cambrian to Middle Devonian strata along the Cordillera. The biostratigraphy temporally constrains at least two periods of renewed extension along the margin, in the latest Cambrian and late Early Ordovician. Alkalic volcanics associated with abrupt facies changes across the ancient shelf break, intervals of slope debris breccia deposits, and distal turbidite flows suggest the margin was characterized by intervals of volcanism, basin foundering, and platform flooding. Siliciclastics in the succession were sourced by a reactivation of tectonic highs, such as the Peace River Arch. Prominent hiatuses punctuate the succession, including unconformities of early Late Ordovician, sub-Llandovery, possibly Early to Middle Silurian and Early Devonian ages.