Thousands of red-shirted Winnipeggers filled Portage and Main to create a giant maple leaf in the city's historic intersection on a historic Canada Day.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ estimates 3,600 people participated.

"This year, for the first time ever, we're bringing the Canada Day Living Maple Leaf to the iconic Portage and Main intersection as we come together to celebrate Canada 150, our country, our city and our downtown," said Downtown Winnipeg BIZ executive director Stefano Grande.

The early morning rain cleared just in time for the formation of the leaf shortly after 8:30 a.m.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ went with a simple maple leaf, with people in white at the bottom of the leaf spelling out "150," rather than the red-and-white flag of past years.

Canada Day living maple leaf at Portage and Main

An estimated 3,600 Winnipeggers filled Portage and Main to create a living maple leaf on Canada's 150th birthday. (Thomas Asselin/CBC)

This year's event included a flyover by a Hercules plane, and speeches from Winnipeg Centre MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette and Mayor Brian Bowman.

On Canada's sesquicentennial — its 150th birthday — thousands of people in Winnipeg and across the country are expected head out to celebrations.

Living Maple Leaf in downtown Winnipeg1:05

At Government House — the official residence of Manitoba's lieutenant-governor — 150 people were welcomed as the newest citizens of Canada.

Adedayo Adewakun and Jane Adewakun said it was very special to have their citizenship ceremony as Canada turned 150.

"It's a memorable day because anytime people say, 'Oh, it's Canada Day today' and then we say, 'It's our citizenship anniversary today,'" Jane said with a smile.


Jane Adewakun, left, and Adedayo Adewakun said it was special to have their citizenship ceremony on Canada Day. (Travis Golby/CBC2)

The couple, originally from Nigeria, came to Canada nearly five years ago.

"Initially, I won't lie to you, I struggled with the weather, but I'm used to it now," Adedayo said with a laugh.

"Manitoba precisely is a land of opportunities. You just have to reach out and tap into the resources. The resources that they have are huge."

Canada Day drumming Winnipeg

People gathered at the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre to watch drumming on Canada Day. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Manitoba's Chinese community joined groups from across Canada to simultaneously join in a drumming celebration to mark the event. 

People gathered at the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre to watch the traditional drumming, while groups drummed at the same time in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver.

"We co-ordinate to drum together so that we would have record-breaking drumming together from coast to coast over the entire width of Canada, and this would go into the Guinness record," said Philip Lee, the former lieutenant-governor of Manitoba.

"We want to show the world that if Chinese can be accepted in Canada so can anybody else. This exemplifies Canada to be a country of opportunities."

Canada Day

People danced at a multiculturalism event on Canada Day in Winnipeg. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

The smell of barbecue filled the air at Hugh John MacDonald School in Winnipeg for a special event showcasing Canada's multiculturalism.

The event was organized by the Kurdish Initiative for Refugees, Bilal Community and Family Centre, Drop Zone and the Yazidi community. Kebabs were cooked for an expected 2,500 people and there was also music, dancing, sports and games for kids.

"We just come here to thank Canada for having us here and to celebrate Canada, and just to celebrate Canada Day in our own way," said Nour Ali, an organizer with the Kurdish Initiative for Refugees.

Ali arrived in Canada more than four years ago after fleeing Syria and said he was quickly embraced by people in Manitoba.

He said Canada Day has a very special meaning for refugees.

"We feel like [it's] something very special for us to celebrate Canada Day. It is a special holiday," he said.