The story takes place during the colonization of the Laurentian region in Quebec towards the end of the 19th century (approx. 1885-90), near Sainte-Adèle. An unscrupulous man, Séraphin Poudrier, dominates the small community using his wealth. Mayor of the village, he will marry Donalda Laloge, after her father, unable to repay his debt, gives her to him in marriage. Donalda, a gentle and submissive woman who was promised to the handsome Alexis Labranche, rather, he will live his life according to the wishes of this petty and contemptuous miser, but will never let his situation get him down.