The Trial Islands are located in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) offshore from the south end of Vancouver Island, and about 6.5 miles (10.5 km) southeast of Esquimalt, British Columbia. The islands were named for the practice of sending British naval ships out to the islands and back for sea trials after they were refitted at Esquimalt Harbour, 2.5 miles (4 km) west of Victoria.
The main island is home to the Trial Island Light Station, which was constructed in 1906 at Staines Point, near the highest point on the island. The station included a diaphone fog alarm and a square two-story keepers’ dwelling with a square lantern room centered on its roof. In 1970, a cylindrical concrete tower with a lantern and galley was built a few feet away from the keeper’s dwelling, replacing the original light. It stands 42 feet (13 m) tall, with a focal plane of 93 feet (28 m), and flashes a green light every 5 seconds. The old lantern room and Fresnel lens were dismantled and reassembled in Victoria’s Bastion Square, where the historic light still flashes every night to the delight of tourists.
The islands also form the Trial Islands Ecological Reserve, a 57 acres (23 ha) area established in 1990 to protect plants and animals on rocky islands. This is the northern limit for many plant species, 9 plant communities have been described, including the red-listed Garry Oak-California Brome association. The islands also provide roosting sites for birds, and haul-out sites for marine mammals. The reserve protects the greatest number of endangered and vulnerable species in a single ecological reserve in British Columbia. Read more here and here. Explore more of Trial Islands here: