Queen Elizabeth II unveils Oscar Peterson monument

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Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a life-size statue of Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson sitting at his piano on Wednesday, during the third day of her Canadian visit.

After appearing to stumble out of her limousine at the National Arts Centre where the bronze statue will be displayed publicly, Canada's titular head of state pulled a yellow cord to unveil the monument.

She was joined by Peterson's family for the unveiling.

Dressed in a robin's egg blue dress and matching hat, the British monarch also toured a Victorian museum where a female security guard gushed, "She's beautiful." Elizabeth also planted a tree in the governor general's yard, and was to have a private chat with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the afternoon.

Earlier, several hundred people applauded her arrival to the Canadian capital.

Peterson released more than 200 recordings and toured the world, performing in concerts with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and others.

The jazz virtuoso performed for the queen and her husband in Toronto in 2002.

The fourth of five children, Peterson grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood of Montreal, learning to play the piano from his father and sister Daisy.

He would later drop out of high school to become a professional pianist, earning a reputation as a technically brilliant and inventive jazz pianist. His most memorable compositions include Canadiana Suite and Hymn to Freedom, inspired by the US civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Peterson died of kidney failure in 2007.

The queen is visiting Canada with her husband Prince Philip.

During her 22nd official tour of the country, the 84-year-old monarch addresses the nation on Canada Day on Thursday.

She will also travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba to attend a horse race, and then wrap up her tour in Toronto, where she is due to visit Research in Motion, the maker of the popular BlackBerry device.

© 2010 AFP

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