Depending on what you mean by "standard HTML", it might be a bit tough to automate. Unless you are using a CMS, there's nowhere to grab the canonical URL itself. If you are using a common CMS, most of them already have canonical link plug-ins available.
Are you talking about Dreamweaver? I haven't used it since the canonical link was introduced. But, from what I recall, that does sound like someone is manually adding the actual canonical URL to every page.