One of three birthday cakes needed to feed the masses for Dorothy Adair’s 106th birthday. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Setting a new standard for 106-year-olds

Island woman’s active lifestyle includes a trip to Scotland in the works for May

Dorothy Adair of Chemainus is living life to the fullest. And that’s saying something at the age of 106.

She still lives in her own place and she’s got places to go, things to see.

“I still travel a little bit,” she said during her birthday luncheon Wednesday at the Chemainus 55+ Activity Centre following her actual 106th birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

“I’m hoping to go to Scotland for a wedding in May. I’ve been there many times.”

Adair only moved to Chemainus all the way from Ontario in May of 2018 at the age of 104. She’s overwhelmed how the community has embraced her during that time.

“I go into the drug store and they call me ‘Dorothy,’” Adair grinned.

The luncheon in her honour brought out nearly 70 people. She’s a regular at the 55+ Activity Centre and is now almost double the age minimum.

“I’m very happy about the food,” said Adair. “I really thought it was wonderful.”

As for the turnout, it was “more than I thought,” she added. “We brought plates for 60 and they ran out.”

The many new friends Adair has made at the centre simply marvel at how great she looks and her overall good health. Other than a slight hearing deficiency, she doesn’t have any persistent problems. Hey, you can’t have it all.

“Dorothy sort of came here out of the blue,” recalled 55+ Activity Centre president Keith Falconer. “Her grandsons or great grandsons invited her out here and she liked what she saw. She came out here and she couldn’t believe the number of friends she had.”

Adair goes to the centre every Wednesday and Friday morning for muffin and coffee socials.

“She’s a good friend,” said Falconer.

“At one time she recited the Shooting of Dan McGrew. She did that at one of our birthday parties. The thing she likes about this place is everybody just accepted her.”

Jim Chisholm of Saltair, who works as the band administrator for the Penelakut Tribe, is Adair’s nephew.

“I’ve never known a person at 106 who lives by herself, looks after herself, is mentally sharp, physically sharp,” he said. “She’s incredible. She’s one of a kind.”

“She’s got a great quality of life,” Chisholm remarked. “To move at 104 from Toronto to the other end of the country tells you something about her.

“Since she’s come here, all she can talk about is the nice people in the community. Her only regret is she didn’t come out here earlier.”

Chisholm’s son Brodie, 26, Adair’s great nephew, sees her about four days a week since he lives nearby at the Chisholm family compound. He attends to as many of her needs as he can while completing university requirements by correspondence.

“She knows everybody; everybody knows who she is,” said Brodie. “That’s pretty special.”

“I don’t even know what to say,” pondered Bucky, the other Chisholm great nephew. “She’s still enjoying life. Nothing really slows her down. That’s her secret.

“She never says ‘no’ to anything and I think that’s her secret to longevity. We also said we think her secret is she didn’t have any kids.”

“Just a forward-looking attitude,” added Brodie.

Adair’s husband Joseph died 30 years ago. They were both long-time educators.

Adair’s memory is razor sharp and she can recount details of her life with little difficulty. She was born in the small community of Rannoch, Ontario, but considers nearby St. Mary’s as her original home where she attended and taught school.

Adair had a 39-year teaching career before retiring in her late 50s, almost half a lifetime ago. She and her husband traveled extensively during their years together, stepping onto every continent except Antarctica.

“We got to Mainland China,” Adair recalled. “I think that was one of the highlights. Actually, it was the most fascinating trip we had, really. I saw the Great Wall in the distance and I was so excited to know I’d be on it.”

Next stop: Scotland.

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Here she is, the centre of attention: Dorothy Adair at 106. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Dorothy Adair is all dressed up for the special occasion of her 106th birthday at the Chemainus 55+ Activity Centre. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Brodie Chisholm and Dorothy Adair have a heart-to-heart chat at Dorothy’s 106th birthday. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Dorothy Adair is the first in line for cake, as she should be on her 106th birthday. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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