The wife of jazz legend Oscar Peterson says a bronze statue of the musician unveiled Wednesday in Ottawa is "an overwhelming honour" for one of Canada's most treasured artists.

Kelly Peterson said the statue, which was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip during a stop in Ottawa on their nine-day Canadian trip, perfectly captures the traits she most valued in her husband: warmth, kindness and joy.

"It's an overwhelming honour for Oscar. I'm so proud and pleased about that," Kelly Peterson told CTV News Channel in an interview from Ottawa before the unveiling.

"And that the statue is here in Ottawa in the nation's capital at the National Arts Centre means a great deal because it exemplifies Oscar's importance to Canada and to the world."

The life-size bronze sculpture by artist Ruth Abernethy sits outside the National Arts Centre at the corner of Elgin and Wellington Streets, close to the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill.

The statue features a smiling Peterson sitting at the piano, but turned away as if looking at his audience.

Abernethy said Wednesday she knew from the outset the statue would feature the pianist having just finished playing and enjoying a moment with his fans.

"So he's very accessible to people who love him and that is an unabashed set-up to just have a moment with Oscar," Abernethy told CTV's Canada AM.

During the unveiling, the Queen met with Kelly Peterson and daughter Celine before the Montreal Jubilation Choir sang Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom."

Peterson, who died in 2007, performed for the Royal Couple when they toured Canada in 2002 to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

Kelly Peterson said the fact the Queen wanted to unveil the statue added a "new layer of significance" to the event. But she is especially pleased that when she sees the sculpture, "It's like walking in and seeing him. It's amazing how it works like that."