This study’s purpose is to sketch, using the historical method, the development of ideas
about giftedness and programs for gifted children in Canadian schools, from the nineteenth
century to the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik in 1957 that reignited interest
in gifted education. The author notes that historians have paid scant attention to giftedness.
The author argues that giftedness and gifted education in Canada developed in three
historical phases prior to 1957. Rationales for gifted education today are discussed in
light of the historical legacy.