Rossport, Ontario

Rossport is a dispersed rural community and unincorporated place in the Unorganized part of Thunder Bay District in northwestern Ontario, Canada.[1] It is on the north shore of Lake Superior in geographic Lahontan Township,[4] and is on Ontario Highway 17. Rossport is a designated place served by a local services board,[5] and has a population of 65.[2]

Rossport ON.JPG
Rossport is located in Ontario
Location of Rossport in Ontario
Coordinates: 48°50′09″N 87°31′14″W / 48.83583°N 87.52056°W / 48.83583; -87.52056Coordinates: 48°50′09″N 87°31′14″W / 48.83583°N 87.52056°W / 48.83583; -87.52056[1]
DistrictThunder Bay
 • Total1.12 km2 (0.43 sq mi)
Elevation192 m (630 ft)
 • Total65
 • Density58/km2 (150/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern Time Zone)
Postal code
P0T 2R0
Area code(s)807


Rossport is named after John Ross (c1820-1898), construction manager for the north shore of Lake Superior route of the Canadian Pacific Railway from August 1882 to June 1885. His construction headquarters during that time period were in Port Arthur, Ontario and at Rossport, then known as McKay's Harbour.[6]

McKay's Harbour was named after Alexander McKay who operated a small fur trading post at Pays Plat and his son, Charles McKay, who was a lighthouse keeper at nearby Battle Island from 1878-1913.

After the end of CPR construction in 1885, Rossport became an important commercial fishing centre. Bowman Street is named after John Bowman (1858–1950) who operated a fishing company there.[7]

Tiny Rossport garnered a wide reputation for being a source of prime fish. An article in the Dominion Illustrated from October 1888, speaks of how dealers from Eastern Canada had travelled to Rossport and other North Shore communities in order to contract for Lake Superior’s fine freshwater fish.[8] Another article from November 1888 talks of a trial shipment of ten barrels of fish from Rossport being sent to Belfast Ireland where it was quickly sold.[9]

In 1901, Rossport joined other North Shore port communities in becoming a regular stop for steamships belonging to Francis Clergue. The vessels operated between Sault Ste Marie and Port Arthur.[10]

In 1907 tenders were called by the Dominion Public Works Department for the construction of a wharf at Rossport.[11]

Most interesting is how a small local competition in 1937 morphed into an international event.[12] There was a time when the Rossport Fish Derby was a staple on every sports fisherman's calendar. An August 1952 article in the Toronto Star describes over 4000 people attending that year’s self-proclaimed “greatest amateur fishing event in North America”.[13] Cars, tents and people would be visible along the highway for a distance as participants arrived and staked out a piece of land to camp on for the one-day event.[14] The arrival to the Lake of a non-native species, the Lamprey eel, caused devastation to the Lake trout population and, over time, brought about the downfall to the days of the derby.

In 1911 the luxury steam yacht Gunilda, owned by William_L._Harkness, foundered on the McGarvey Shoal and sank 8 kilometres from Rossport. The actual date of the sinking varies from August 11 to August 29 to August 31st depending upon the article. A Toronto Daily Star news item contained in the Friday, September 1, 1911 edition states that the vessel ran aground on Wednesday, which would be August 30, and then refers to the sinking as occurring "yesterday" or August 31, 1911. This timeframe could reflect accuracy as after the vessel ran aground on the shoal and stabilized, a small boat was sent to Rossport where arrangements were made for the dispatch of a rescue tug from Port Arthur. It would take time for that tug to travel to Rossport. Therefore there would be a difference in the time between when the Gunilda ran aground and when it was actually pulled off the shoal only to sink.[15][16][17][18]

Painters from the Group of Seven (artists) visited Rossport and the surrounding area to several times in the 1920s.[19] In 2018 a plaque was installed in Wardrop Park celebrating their visits and Lawren Harris' painting "Rossport, Lake Superior - 1921" as part of the Moments of Algoma tourism initiative.[20]

On October 3, 1933, Rossport's waterfront suffered great damage as a result of an unusual tidal phenomenon with Lake Superior.[21][22]

Local governmentEdit

Rossport is managed by a local services board. Rossport has a water treatment plant which serves 45 households. The hamlet falls within the provincial and federal ridings of Thunder Bay-Superior North.

Recreation and EnvironmentEdit

The Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, which includes the waters off Rossport, was created by Parks Canada on June 24, 2015.[23]

In 2009, an eight-island archipelago just off Rossport including Wilson Island were purchased from private owners and were to become a Canadian federal natural area under a joint deal backed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario, and supported by the Pays Plat First Nation.[24][25]

The Voyageur Hiking Trail passes through the town.


Rossport had a population of 66 in the Canada 2006 Census, a decrease of 41.1% since 2001,[26] but only dropped to 65 persons in the 2011 census.[2]

Canada census – Rossport, Ontario community profile
2011 2006
Population: 65 (-1.5% from 2006) 66 (-41.1% from 2001)
Land area: 1.12 km2 (0.43 sq mi) 1.12 km2 (0.43 sq mi)
Population density: 58.2/km2 (151/sq mi) 58.9/km2 (153/sq mi)
Median age: 54.1 (M: 54.5, F: 52.5)
Total private dwellings: 69
Median household income:
References: 2011[27] 2006[28] earlier[29]


  1. ^ a b "Rossport". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  2. ^ a b c d "Rossport, Ontario (Code 350009) census profile". 2011 Census of Population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  3. ^ Elevation taken from Google Earth at coordinates given in the Infobox. Accessed 2015-07-11.
  4. ^ "Lahontan" (PDF). Geology Ontario - Historic Claim Maps. Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-12. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  5. ^ "Local Services Boards, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 737". Canadian Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  6. ^ The Canadian Guide-Book Part 2, Ernest Ingersoll, published by D.Appleton, 1892
  7. ^ "John Bowman," in F. Brent Scollie, Thunder Bay Mayors & Councillors 1873-1945 (Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 2000), 55.
  8. ^ Dominion Illustrated, October 27, 1888, Rossport fish.
  9. ^ Monetary Times and Trade Review Insurance Chronicle, November 1888, Rossport Fish to Belfast
  10. ^ Railway Age, April 26, 1901, Rossport, news item, P.467.
  11. ^ Railway and Marine World, December 1907, Rossport, news item.
  12. ^ Toronto Star, June 12, 1957, Rossport Derby, P.53
  13. ^ Toronto Star, August 6, 1952, King Whyte, Rossport Derby
  14. ^ Toronto Star, June 13, 1958, "Speaking on Sport", P.22
  15. ^ YACHT GUNILDA SUNK IN LAKE SUPERIOR. (1911, Sep 02). The Globe (1844-1936) P.12
  16. ^ "Fine yacht went down in 300 feet of water". (1911, Sep 01). Toronto Daily Star P.23
  17. ^ Duluth Herald, September 1, 1911, "Yacht Gunilda is total wreck", P.5
  18. ^ Toronto Star, August 11, 1971, "Diver finds ship at 310 ft, 'good as new'", P.23
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Montreal Gazette, October 04,1933. "Lake Port Damaged" P.11
  22. ^ Seaman's Journal, November 01 1933, "Lake Superior's Mystery", P.170
  23. ^ "Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Receives Highest Level of Federal Protection". Parks Canada. 24 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  24. ^ "Wilson Island Archipelago Protected Rossport". Lake Superior Media. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  25. ^ "Wilson Island". Nature Conservancy of Canada. Archived from the original on 2015-07-12. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  26. ^ Statistics Canada Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and designated places, 2006 and 2001 censuses. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
  27. ^ "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  28. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  29. ^ "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.

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External linksEdit