Family, friends and a number of Manitoba's leaders honoured the province's former premier, Howard Pawley at a celebration of his life on Saturday.

The ceremony took place at the Manitoba Legislature, where the politician spent most of his time while working in Winnipeg. Pawley would have considered having the ceremony at his old stopping grounds an honour, his wife Adele Pawley said.

"He always regarded himself as a Manitoban," she told dozens of people who showed up to take part in the celebration of Pawley's legacy.

Besides being a hardworking politician who was sincerely interested in and committed to improving difficult circumstances for others, Pawley was described as a devoted family man and attentive grandfather.

"He was … interested in what they thought and what they wanted to be when they grew up," Adele Pawley said, describing Pawley's relationship to their grandchildren.

"In the late 1990s, he began to do research and worked at a book about his life. He wanted to do this so his grandchildren would know what he was about."

Adele Pawley ended the tribute to her late husband on a personal and heartfelt note.

"Howard, you'll always be loved and missed by your family and friends," she said. 

"I will forever remember the twinkle in your blue eyes, and especially your smile."

Adele Pawley was one of many who described their love for Pawley on Saturday, many talking about the influence the NDP leader had on their lives and careers.

 Justice Murray Sinclair said it was under Pawley's guidance that he decided to practice law, and the two kept in touch regularly up until Pawley's death on Dec. 30.

"He always had a real curiosity about things. He was the kind of guy you could talk to when you needed some advice about something," he said.

Murray Sinclair

Justice Murray Sinclair remembered Pawley on Saturday, and talked about the influence Manitoba's former premier had on his own career, noting that the two had a "secret ambition" to practice law together, but that plan did not happen. (CBC)

Sinclair also described Pawley as a personification of a famous quote by Maya Angelou: That people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

"I give thanks everyday for the opportunity I've had to have known this man, and to be able to call him my best friend," he said.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger attended the celebration, telling members of the media that Pawley's most notable characteristic was his willingness to find a way to work with everyone.

Greg Selinger

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said Pawley had a number of strong characteristics, among them the willingness to work with everyone to find a way to move forward. (CBC)

"He was always a very good listener, very respectful of people and he always used the experience he had with people to find a better way forward in doing something," he said.

"One of the best quotes that I heard today from one of the speakers was, 'He accepted everybody, but never the conditions that they had to struggle with.' So, I thought that … really captured the essence of the man."

For Pawley's daughter, Charysse, it was a day to acknowledge her father's accomplishments and influence on social change, but also to consider how to carry on his work.​

Charysse Pawley

Charysse Pawley said her father's work influenced her own and that of her brother as they got older. (CBC)

"I loved going door to door with my dad and listening to what people had to say," she said. 

"For myself, I'm a social worker now and I think my brother's continued down that role of public service and certainly the advocacy of greater quality … That's something that we've always been proud of."