Young Jim sets out on snowshoes for Montreal, seven hundred miles away. Arriving at last, Jim is driven by starvation into a back-breaking job constructing the Victoria Bridge. Jim finds lodgings with an Irish widow in Griffintown, and falls in love. After being deceived in this romance, he rejects the bitter realities of urban life and returns to the Old Homestead and its community of pioneers. His ageing father recruits him to rally neighbours to found a school for their children and a church for their worship in Shigawake.