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Great Village senior strives to remain active and independent

Art Chisholm of Great Village, who recently turned 95 and continues to remain self-sufficient in his own home, has sewn countless quilt tops over the years as a way to help keep busy.
Art Chisholm of Great Village, who recently turned 95 and continues to remain self-sufficient in his own home, has sewn countless quilt tops over the years as a way to help keep busy. - Harry Sullivan
GREAT VILLAGE, N.S. —

Art Chisholm answers his door with a smile and proffers a hand to shake with the stranger calling on him.
He’s a tall man, though he is quick to tell you he is not as tall as he used to be. Nonetheless, at 95 he still stands better than two metres. If age has lessened his frame, it mustn't be by much.
“Used to be six-three,” he chuckles, a few minutes into a chat. “I’m shrinking.”
Pausing to try to catch a comment directed his way, Chisholm turns to exit the living room.
“I think I better get my hearing aids. One of the penalties of getting old, all of these artificial things,” he says, before correcting himself. “Older. I like the word better than ‘old’.”
Chisholm was born in nearby Highland Village. He lived there until about age five, before moving to Great Village. The home he grew up in sits next door to where he currently lives. It's now occupied by one of his sons.
Chisholm lived there until he left for university. After completing a course in pre-engineering at Sackville, N.B.'sMount Alison, he moved to Halifax to study civil engineering at the Nova Scotia Technical College.
While in Halifax, he met his wife-to-be, Shirley Lewis of Sackville, on a New Year’s Eve blind date.
“The blind date turned out to be rather wonderful,” he says.
His wife died seven years ago after “66 years and one day” of marriage. During the intervening years, the couple raised four children – two boys, two girls. Meanwhile, Chisholm spent 35 of those years working at Dalhousie University, where he taught surveying – “the kids called me professor” – and eventually served as the director of Physical Plant, overseeing the campus maintenance and repairs.
In 1983, Chisholm returned to his boyhood home until 2000 when his current, single-storey home was constructed after his wife’s crippling arthritis prevented her from climbing the stairs.
For many years, Chisholm’s wife cross-stitched and piece-sewed quilts, until her arthritis also hampered her ability to sew. 
“So, guess who did the sewing?” he laughed.
In an effort to keep busy, Chisholm continues to sew quilt tops, then sends them off for someone else to do the batting and backing. Some quilts have been donated for charity, others dispersed to family and friends while others are packed away in his closets. Just how many quilts tops he's made, however, is anyone’s guess.
“Look I have no idea. Countless, really,” he said.
For many years, both while in Halifax and in Great Village, Chisholm sang in the church choir. He was also the first associate member of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 72 in Great Village, when he signed on in 1984 and where his membership remains intact.
“There was another associate member who was sworn in at the same time but my name began with C and his didn’t,” he chuckles. “I don’t volunteer for anything anymore but during the years I’ve held pretty much every position within the legion.”
Chisholm still drives, cooks his own “simple” meals, does his own housecleaning and generally tries to keep busy.
“I don’t do any work anymore and my garden is suffering this year, particularly, but I do quite a lot of handwork. You can’t just sit and twiddle your thumbs all day,” he said. 
“I do a lot of puzzles and I do some work on my quilts in the daytime as well.”
And, as long as his health allows him to remain in his own home – along with his cat, Princess – Chisholm is content to do just that.
“I shudder to think of needing to go to a nursing home,” he said.
 

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