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Daniel Burnyeat (1881-1907) and Matthew 'Matt' McEwan (1874-1907)

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Atlin Pioneer Cemetery

The Vancouver World - Saturday, January 19, 1907

TWO ENGLISHMEN ARE KILLED AT ATLIN. Mat McEwan and Dan Burnyeat Caught By Cave-In While Drifting on Spruce Creek

    Atlin, Jan. 19 - Mat McEwan and Daniel Burnyeat, two Spruce Creek miners, were accidentally killed by a cave-in Thursday night whilst drifting. They were residents of the camp for two years and natives of England. This is the fourth fatal accident in the last few weeks.

The Atlin Claim - Saturday, January 26, 1907

The Last Sad Rites. Two Victims of the Spruce Creek Tragedy Laid to Rest

    On Wednesday, the 23rd, the last sad rites were performed over the bodies of Mat McEwan and Dan Burnyeat as they were lowered into the grave and laid side by side in the Atlin cemetery. So they worked in life, and they were together in death, and so will they be in their last long sleep, side by side in the one grave.

    The pallbearers for McEwan were John Anness, Richard Smaill, Jas. Dick, Alex. McDonald, Charles Baker and St. G. Bowley. The pallbearers for Burnyeat were A. G. Broe, J. Perkinson, Wm. McKechnie, A. E. Peters, Alex. McCrimmon and George Neill. P. Foley officiated at the burial of McEwan, at the graveside. Capt. Hathorn read the burial service over Burnyeat at the church and grave. The funeral was a very large one, nearly the entire population of Spruce coming down, besides many from, Discovery and Atlin attending.

    McEwan and Burnyeat were crushed to death in a drift, on the Texas bench claim, on Spruce Creek, on the 17th January last.

    Thursday evening about supper time 'Andy' Broe noticed there was no smoke coming from the cabin stovepipe of the two men. Thinking something might have happened, he went across the creek to the drift and walked in a way, discovering, to his horror, that the timbers had given way and a cave-in had occurred. Immediately he gave an alarm. In a very short time nearly everyone ou the creek had responded and the work of rescue started. Gangs of four men at two-hour shift went to work with feverish energy and the dirt was soon coming out as fast as the cars could be handled. The work was carried on throughout the night and on till about noon of the following day, when they came upon. the body of Burnyeat. On cleaning away more of the dirt McEwan was found laying partially across his partner's body. They had undoubtedly been killed instantly, as there must have been tons of dirt on top of them. They were not disfigured though the bodies were crushed and bones broken. They were brought to Atlin and prepared for burial, by E. Pillman.

    Both the victims of the unfortunate occurence were very popular on the creek. McEwan has been in the camp since 1899. He had accumulated a nice little sum of money, and intended this to be his last season in here, He had bought a ranch in Alberta and was going out to work it. As far as known he had no living relatives. He was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England, some 33 years ago. Burnyeat comes from the same place, and was about 25 years old, a very quiet, unassuming man, a good worker and a good neighbor. His relatives were cabled to and the answer was to bury him in Atlin.

    Their property and effects will be looked after by the public administrator and one other, chosen from amongst their fellow workers and friends on Spruce creek.

    The calamity fairly stunned the population of the creek and for a time work was entirely suspended. Our little camp has been very unfortunate lately, this last makes the third serious accident, with four deaths as a result. Our population is small and our interests so interwoven and identical, that the loss of one or two, especially in such a sudden and awful manner, comes upon us as a shock and diverts the mind into the channel of solemn thoughts.

    It might be well to utter a word of caution here, to those who are left behind, many of whom are working in places none too safe. Life is too precious to take too many chances. As one of the boys put it: "Life may be a continual grind and sometimes the road is rough and the obstacles unsurmountable, but we may as well live because, to the best of our knowledge, we have nothing to gain by dying." Familiarity with danger sometimes breeds a contempt that is likely to end seriously. Risking one's life for a few ounces of the yellow dust is a game not worth playing. The stakes are too unequal.