"Everyone aboard the ship has been rescued -- they've all been accounted for," a Navy spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak about the incident.
Brazil's Navy said in a statement that a distress signal was picked up from the three-masted SV Concordia about 5 p.m. (2 p.m. EST; 1900 GMT) Thursday. It was located about 300 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
Three hours later, an Air Force plane spotted life rafts floating in the ocean where the distress beacon had come from. The Navy had already informed shipping in the region to be on the alert.
The Navy sent its own rescue ship, but those aboard the Canadian ship were plucked from the ocean early Friday by other vessels.
The Concordia is owned by West Island College International in Nova Scotia.
The ship had left Brazil's northeast on Feb. 8 and was expected to dock in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the college confirmed the incident but declined to offer any details.
The school's Web site says the Concordia was built in 1992 and "meets all of the international requirements for safety."
The college's site says it gives high school and college students the chance to study various subjects while sailing the world.