Glace Bay, Nova Scotia Canada, 1901. Willie MacLean is a 10-year-old boy with a love for horses and liking to school to cape the difficult times his family has. Willie's stern, but benevolent father is a coal miner in a local mine along with his older brother John. But when Willie's father is injured and John is killed in an accident at the mine, Willie is forced to step into his brother's shoes to support his older sister Nelle, and two younger sisters until their father recovers. Willie soon finds work at the mine lonely (aka: the pit) and unfriendly in which he forms a bond with a pit pony horse in order to make it though each day.