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Welcome to

Cole Island


A National Historic Site

& Provincial Heritage Site

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Cole Island is located in Esquimalt Harbour on the west coast of British Columbia. Its close proximity to Victoria, BCs capital city, makes it a popular destination for boaters, kayakers and paddle boarders. Because of its sheltered location the Royal Navy considered Cole Island strategically important as an ammunition depot as early as 1859. Eventually, 16 solid structures occupied the site. Five of the original structures remain.

In June 2006, Cole Island was officially recognized as a national historic site and designated part of a National Historic District by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. The district is considered to be the most complete site of Royal Naval activity and infrastructure in the Commonwealth.

Extensive restoration of the site has been undertaken by the British Columbia Heritage Branch  and Parks Canada through reciprocal funding initiatives. In addition, the Friends of Cole Island Society received funding through a BC/Canada 150 grant to rebuild a historic barrel path that now serves as a self-guided walking tour. The tour is accessible for those who many be physically challenged and is open to visitors year-round from sun-up to sun-down. The Friends of Cole Island operates as a non-profit society.

The southern tip of Vancouver Island, including Victoria and Langford, the San Juan and the Gulf Islands are the traditional territories of the Lekwungen Peoples.


Cole Island is a place of natural beauty in the heart of the Western Communities. Kayaks, paddle boards, small boats and dinghies are welcome to tie up or land on the dock.

Raising Awareness

Take the self-guided tour on Cole Island and learn about the importance of the Island in the historical context of colonial British Columbia and Canada

Building Community

The on-going restoration of the Island brings together local Victorians, all levels of government, the Canadian Navy and skilled craftspeople all of whom remain passionate about this important piece of Canadian history. 

Where is Cole Island?

Latitude: 48°27'13''N Longitude: 123°27'04''W

Cole Island is located at the end of Esquimalt Harbour in Victoria, British Columbia. The surrounding waters of south Cole Island provide a safe sheltered anchorage for visiting boaters. There is good mud holding in depths of about 3-4 m or 10 - 13 feet. Consult charts 3419.

Esquimalt Harbour is administered by the Department of National Defence (DND) and is open to the public within the limitations concerning controlled access zones. All vessels upon entering Esquimalt Harbour are requested to contact King's Harbour Master Operations (KHM OPS) on marine VHF channel 10 and inform them of your arrival and/or departure. If arriving by kayak or other small craft you can telephone in at 250-363-2160.

There is a 100 meter security zone around all DND ships and facilities where civilian vessels are not permitted. You must maintain a distance of 200 metres from naval vessels underway.

For more information:

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