PROJECT OF A LIFETIME: Interior designer revamps a Canadian icebreaker

Tania Kratt boards the Canada C3 icebreaker.

(PHOTO: Tania Kratt boards the Canada C3 icebreaker.)

Tania Kratt has a long commute. Fortunately, her roughly 340 km travel between her home in Stittsville and office in Burlington, Vermont, only happens twice a month.

Kratt works as an interior designer and originally lived in Vermont until about five years ago, when her family moved to Stittsville for her husband’s work. It was supposed to be for a few years, but is stretching longer than intended.

She splits her time between projects in the Vermont and Ottawa areas but recently took on one of the most unique projects of her career – redesigning the interior of the Canada C3 icebreaker ship in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia.

Usually Kratt works on offices or homes and this was her first ship.

“It was definitely the most adventurous project of mine,” she said in a phone interview from Stittsville. “We had almost exactly two months to turn (the ship) around.”

After arriving in Lunenburg in March, she tracked down local artists and designers to help her with the project. Almost all materials used were sourced from Canada, she said.

The Canada C3, built in 1958, is on a 150-day and 12,000 nautical mile expedition meant to commemorate Canada 150.

Its trip is divided into 15 legs of between seven and 12 days. For each leg, a new group of participants join the voyage – among them journalists, teachers, scientists, Indigenous elders, community leaders et al.

“Canada C3 participants will open their minds to new perspectives, participate in an engaging conversation about the Canada of tomorrow and share their stories with people from coast to coast to coast,” says the voyage’s website.

The ship is currently travelling up the St. Lawrence River and, via the Northwest Passage, will wind up in Vancouver in late October.

For Kratt, this presented a unique challenge.

“You know people are going to be spending 10 (or so) days at a time on this ship,” she said, so she knew she had better make it good.

The journey follows four themes; diversity, reconciliation, youth engagement and the environment. So she worked all of those themes into her designs.

An example is the “legacy room,” which is a lounge themed around Indigenous reconciliation. It is among the first of its kind, Kratt said.

For the ship’s bar (called “the knot”) she designed a mural out of pictures and words that describe the Canada C3 trip. In the mess hall, chalkboard paint was used so participants can leave messages for the next group.

“It was transformative for me,” Kratt said. “Just a completely different experience.”

WATCH: A video interview with Klatt, via the Canada C3 page on Facebook

She’s back in Stittsville now and is working with Saunder’s Farm to design some of their interiors.

“I love working with them,” she said.

She has more projects waiting in Vermont – office interiors. She doesn’t know if she’ll work on another ship but will keep her mind open.

Will going back to offices and houses be dull?

“I could use a breather, to be honest.”

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