Former premier Danny Williams was one of several business people honoured at a gala dinner in Halifax on Thursday.

Williams was presented with the Ernst and Young's Atlantic Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a lawyer, businessman, and public servant.

This was the 20th year for the lifetime achievement award.

"This afternoon, I went with the officials, the experts in Ernst and Young, and I did estate planning, and tonight, I'm getting a lifetime achievement award," Williams said.

"I guess it's kind of like being a singer, and your recording company puts out your greatest hits. Same kind of thing."

In his acceptance speech, Williams credited his success to Newfoundland and Labrador and the people who have supported him over the years.

"You can't do it yourself. You may have a vision, but if you don't have the experts around you, the people around you — you need a team," he said.

"I also accept it on behalf of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I say that because we were always considered the poor sisters, the poor cousins down east, and you know we accepted that and we tried to accept it with grace... but you know, it hurt. We also felt we had an entrepreneurial spirit, and that's evident in the room tonight."

Williams also singled out his family for allowing him to pursue his numerous interests.

"If Dad was involved in a law case, or Dad was involved in a business, or Dad played hockey, or Dad got on the beer once in a while... they accepted it," he joked.

"But you know, you do need that. You need to have that. Because Dad needed to go on the beer once in a while, [because] you got to work hard and you got to play hard too if you're going to make it."

Newfoundlander Seamus O'Regan was the emcee for Thursday night's event.