This is where you should go next on your B.C. road trip

This is where you should go next on your B.C. road trip

A row of Brill trolley buses in Sandon

Road trips to B.C.’s interior are popular during the summer months, whether it’s to camp, hike, or visit a vineyard in the the Okanagan — the possibilities are endless and run the gamut.

But there’s one place you should add to your itinerary on your next road trip if you’re a transit enthusiast: Sandon, B.C. to see — what’s believed to be — the world’s largest collection of Brill trolley buses.

The first Brill trolley buses arrived in Vancouver in 1948 as part of the ambitious “rails-to-rubber” conversion that replaced the streetcar network with buses. The T-44 and T-48 model Brill trolley buses were workhorses for about 30 years before being retired in the mid-1980s.

Now you may be wondering how did these buses end up more than 650 kilometres from Vancouver in Sandon?

After the Brill trolley buses were retired, an auto wrecker in Surrey purchased about 240 of these buses with hopes of reselling them to a transit system that would put them back into service. This never materialized and the buses continue to fall into disrepair. Eventually, the decision was made to scrap these buses and a deal was made with Wrightway Charter Co. Ltd. in Sandon. The company would help with scrapping, while preserving different models of the Brills. In 2001, the selected buses for preservation were moved to Sandon where it remains to this day.

One bus (#2201) has been transformed to include an interior display, containing information on the project and the history of Brill trolley buses, while the others can be viewed from the exterior. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.  As well, the collection not only includes trolley buses from Vancouver, but also Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Regina.

Row of Brill trolley buses in Sandon

Sandon is a historic town a four-hour drive east of Kelowna and Vernon, nestled between the villages of New Denver and Kaslo, near Highway 31A. It is about a 6-minute drive along a 10-kilometre dirt road from Highway 31A, but most cars will be able to make it on a sunny day.

Depending on the route you take, your visit to Sandon might even include a 20-minute inland ferry ride to cross Arrow Lake. This ferry is free to ride and operates every 30 minutes throughout the day.

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