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-June 1885. His construction headquarters during that time period were in Port Arthur, Ontario and at Rossport, then known as McKay’s Harbour.
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 lighthouse keeper at nearby Battle Island, 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.
In 1911 the luxury steam yacht Gunilda foundered on the McGarvey Shoal and sank 8 kilometers from Rossport.