The Bulldogs, ninth in the regular season and winners in added time in the last two rounds of the play-offs, defied the predictions again by leading 12-10 at half-time at the Sydney Football Stadium.
A first career try from Tony Grimaldi, who will play for Gateshead next year, helped to give them their narrow advantage over the hottest Grand Final favourites for years.
But Brisbane were not to be denied after the break. Within two minutes, Tonie Carroll's try put them in the lead. When Wendell Sailor, who still hopes to play rugby union for Leeds this winter, capitalised on a great run from Steve Renouf for another, Canterbury's brave campaign was effectively over.
Gorden Tallis powered over from close range and, after the Bulldogs' full-back, Rod Silva, was brought back from an interception that might just have triggered one of their famous fightbacks, Phillip Lee and Darren Smith finished the job.
The final was the last at the ground before the event moves to the new Olympic Stadium next year.