The Trial Islands are two elongate islands and associated islets located just off the southeast tip of Vancouver Island near Victoria BC. They are part of the municipality of Oak Bay and, since 1990, a designated ecological reserve created to protect 28 species of plants listed as rare within Canada.
For most people who are living in Victoria, the Trial Islands are a scenic sight that can be viewed from Beach Drive in Oak Bay or, for the adventurous, a challenge to visit by small craft. In fact, the islands were said to have gotten their name because navigating around them is a trial of skill in navigation and seamanship due to rip tides and prevailing westerly winds.
Another version of how the Trial Islands were named has it that they were often the destination for newly refitted British Naval ships from the Esquimalt Royal Navy Dockyards before they were sent into open seas, a convenient ‘trial run’.
The Trial Islands Lighthouse, constructed in 1906, is a Victoria landmark and has been keeping sailors off the rocks for over a century. In 2009, the federal government announced a plan to destaff the already automated lighthouse, but a Congressional committee responded to vociferous opposition to this plan by visiting the Trial Islands Lighthouse and recommending a reprieve. To this day the lighthouse continues to host a keeper, providing a watchful backup lookout for the highly trafficked and treacherous waters around the Trial Islands.