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The story of Aunt Martha’s Sheep

One of the most popular songs on Newfoundland airwaves during the seventies was “Aunt Martha's Sheep.”

The song was recorded by Dick Nolan and tells the story of a little old lady from Carmanville whose sheep was stolen.

It recounts details of an RCMP investigation into the crime and the source of much laughter by Newfoundlanders who contend that the Mountie shared in the booty having been tricked into thinking it was moose.

The reputation of the Force was redeemed somewhat when, in a later song, it was learned that the Mountie was actually a Newfoundlander from Harbour Grace.

Members from the Burin Peninsula and St. John's G.I.S. did not want to fall prey to any such trap when they responded to a complaint on February 6, 1973, from Aunt Lucy Cluett of Frenchman's Cove that her sheep had been stolen.

Ironically, she had been listening to Nolan's recording when her attention turned to the source of a noise outside and was shocked to see two men stealing a sheep from her barn.

Aunt Lucy followed the example of Aunt Martha by calling the local RCMP Detachment. Recognizing the significance, our members pulled out all stops including the use of roadblocks with no immediate success. A local police spokesperson assured the curious public that no one had eaten any moose.

The thieves, in their haste, left behind their battery lantern which led to their identification. Due to the team efforts of St. Lawrence and Burin Detachments assisted by St. John's Subdivision G.I.S., two residents of Port au Bras and one from Fox Cove were found in possession of the remains of the stolen mutton. The Port au Bras residents became known as the 'Mutton Brothers.'

Dick Dew in his account of this story published in the RCMP “Quarterly” reported that as the three defendants left the courtroom in Grand Bank having been convicted, they were humiliated by well-wishers with a series of baas. The remaining members of the Division, especially those who hailed from Mainland points, were growing tired of being asked the difference between the taste of moose and that of sheep. They were grateful to members who brought this matter to a successful conclusion.

Story published in The Mounties: The First Fifty Years in Newfoundland and Labrador, edited by Gerald Leahy, for the RCMP Veterans' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Old Lady Story
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