British Columbian jazz legend Phil Nimmons is celebrating his 100th birthday on Saturday.
The Kamloops-born clarinetist and composer won the first-ever Juno award for jazz and helped found a pioneering jazz school in Toronto.
"So many current jazz musicians owe what they do to Phil," said Daniel Hersog, the academic coordinator of the jazz program at Capilano University in North Vancouver.
"Phil is a true one-of-a-kind — a true trailblazer in jazz education, jazz performance and jazz composition."
In the 1960s, Nimmons, along with jazz greats Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown, founded Toronto's Advanced School of Contemporary Music, one of the first institutions to offer formal jazz training.
It only lasted a few years, but Nimmons spent decades teaching youth summer camps and high school students.
"I had this feeling I wanted to pass along whatever I might have learned," he told CBC News from his home in Thornhill, Ont. "Whatever you write or come up with, it's the truth of how you feel.
"I cannot help but feel that everybody that has touched my life helped me be what I am … In retrospect, I'm blessed."
The composer and musician's career started in Vancouver in the 1940s and he formed a band named Nimmons 'N' Nine in the 1950s.
He was awarded the first-ever Juno award for jazz in 1977. In 2002, he won the prestigious Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.
For one of the many high school students who remembers taking workshops with Nimmons, the impact was lasting.
"He's just a huge part of my origin story as an artist, and his influence has continued to be important to me throughout my career to this day," said Juno-winning trumpeter and pianist Brad Turner. "I'd love to wish him a happy birthday and many more."
The Nimmons Tribute, a band led by grandson Sean Nimmons-Paterson, recently released an album of Nimmons' compositions.
Nimmons-Paterson said his grandfather always encouraged him to develop his own voice as a composer.
"He's such a larger than life figure ever since I was a kid growing up," he said. "He was a huge, instrumental part of creating the Canadian jazz scene. He forged his own path here."
At age 100, Nimmons told CBC News that many of his Canadian peers decided to go to the U.S. to pursue jazz careers. He understood their decision, but chose a more difficult route.
"I wanted to stay in Canada and contribute music to Canada," he said. "If everybody left, we're not going to have anybody to create a musical scene in Canada.
"The greatest thing is I'm really surprised that I'm still here and I'm feeling fine."