McElroy guided the British team to a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and most recently served as performance director for Rowing Ireland.
"I feel very privileged to be joining Rowing Canada Aviron at this time," McElroy said Tuesday in a release. "Canada has a great tradition on the world stage, which together with the more recent support of Own The Podium and other partners, creates exciting possibilities for the future.
"I've always been impressed by the toughness and commitment of Canada's rowing athletes. All considered, I see this as a tremendous opportunity and I'm really looking forward to it."
McElroy will be based in Victoria. He will be responsible for the senior men's rowing program and the under-23 men's rowing program.
"Martin has a strong background in all aspects of high performance rowing and will be a great asset to our program leading to Rio in 2016," said high performance director Peter Cookson. "His leadership skills and coaching background will provide the necessary tools to help RCA meet its goal of multiple medals in 2016."
The announcement comes after the recent departure of men's eights coach Mike Spracklen. He guided the men's eights team to several Olympic medals over his career, including silver at the London Games.
There have seen a number of changes at Rowing Canada in recent weeks. John Keogh is assuming the women's performance director role and Al Morrow is taking over the lightweight men's program.
Coach Terry Paul will assist McElroy at the Victoria Training Centre with his primary focus on the men's U23 program and Michelle Darvill will assist Keogh with the women's program in London, Ont.
Rowing Canada has yet to confirm its 2013 schedule but is planning to send competitors to the Samsung World Rowing Cup One in Sydney, Australia in late March.