It was the birthday bash of the summer as many came out Saturday to celebrate what would be the 90th birthday of one of Canada’s most beloved jazz musicians, Oscar Peterson. A couple hundred locals and tourists gathered around the Oscar Peterson statue on the corner of Elgin St. and Albert St. at the National Arts Centre (NAC), tapping their toes to the Clayton Connell Quartet replaying some of the musician’s best hits. “(Oscar) was Canada’s greatest jazz musician and one of the world’s greatest,” said Rosemary Thompson, communications director of the National Arts Centre (NAC). “We thought what a great way to celebrate his legacy than to have a great big party.” Since then, Thompson said, Peterson’s statue has become a staple in Ottawa that many tourists flock to. But all eyes were on Kelly Peterson, Oscar’s wife, who described the celebration as joyful. “I’m really happy to see all of these people here,” said Kelly. “I’m going to feel a lot of joy instead of giving into shedding the tears. Instead, this will be happy as I think about Oscar and how honoured he would be that people are remembering him.”
Peterson’s statue was unveiled five years ago with the help of Queen Elizabeth II. Throughout his 60-some year career, Peterson — a jazz pianist — won eight Grammy Awards for his stylings on the piano, as well as other awards and honours.
Peterson, who lived in Mississauga, died in 2007 at the age of 82.