My experience is in the UK, not Canada, but i imagine the situation is similar.
It's true that an index tracker will outperform the average managed fund. But it's also true that there's a lot more variation in performance in managed funds than in trackers (naturally). That means that when people look at performance league tables, they see managed funds at the top, and they go for managed funds. That explains why index funds haven't taken over the market - people always think they can do better.
The question is, of course, whether they can. Can you reliably pick a managed fund that will be in the top half of that league table five years down the line, rather than one which will have crashed into the below-the-index relegation zone? You can find any number of pundits who will assure you that you can, and at least as many who will be equally certain that you can't.
My two cents (three cents Canadian) is that you can, as long as you're sensible and not greedy; forget about any fund with 'growth', 'aggressive', or 'emerging markets' in the title, and look for ones with a consistent track record over five years or more. It's not a guarantee of future success, but i do think it's a reasonable indication. I'd be interested to see statistics about this, though.
In particular, look for income funds - that's where the money is invested in a diverse set of companies that pay good dividends; the growth rate and volatility may or may not be better than an index tracker, but the dividends mean that the growth in value of the fund is less dependent on capital growth, shielding you from poor performance. For example, a good chunk of my savings are in the Invesco Perpetual High Income fund, which has beaten the FTSE all-share index by a modest amount over the last five years, and will probably beat it harder over the next five if they don't include another crash (a big if!).
On the subject of dividends, i don't know how things work in Canada, but in the UK, an index tracker doesn't pass on any of the dividends paid by the shares it notionally holds; it just tracks the capital value, with the fund manager pocketing the payouts. I have a vague idea that an ETF does pass the dividends on to you, but i'm not sure.
As for websites, The Motley Fool is good.