A great thing about documentary films is that they give you a window into all that you don’t know. I’d like to think That I know a lot about Canada and its history. Yet I had no memory of even hearing about the man who was called Canada’s First Terrorist – Eddy Haymour.
Haymour was born in Lebanon then moved to Canada in 1955. First living in Edmonton, he used his talent cutting hair and his entrepreneurial flair to open a chain of barbershops. He made quite a bit of money as they were successful.
This led to Haymour buying an island off the coast of British Columbia in 1970. Rattlesnake Island is located in Lake Okanagan. He had an idea of opening a Middle Eastern themed theme park on the island. More than an idea, it became an obsession. An obsession which took over his whole life. So much so that he divorced his first wife and she was awarded custody of their kids.
The government of B.C., local mayor and others did not want to see Haymour’s plan come to fruition as they saw his plans for a park as ecologically harmful. The fight between Eddy Haymour and the B.C. government went on for four decades. Even now, after he sold the island back to the government, he is trying to get it back to make his life’s dream a reality.
Eddy is now in his 80s and the fight continues. It is a rather incredible story which director Greg Compton brings to life via interviews with the man himself, reenactments along with archival footage. What does become more and more apparent is that Haymour’s grasp on reality is tenuous at best and that he does not respect authority.
Despite the fact that Eddy has done some crazy and illegal things, you find yourself liking the man. For a spell, anyway. You can understand how he talked people into some of the crazy things he did due to his charisma. But then you remember that he assaulted his first wife, kidnapped his own children and then dumped them in a Lebanese boarding school, took a government official hostage, and planned other dastardly things.
Bottom line is that you will end up being conflicted at all that you have seen. Feel that Haymour is a crazy man who can also be dangerous. You also feel sorry for him as he legally bought the island but was stopped from opening his business by the B.C. government. They wronged him. He did illegal things during his mania.
The film shows it is a complex story. The story of Canada’s first terrorist. Of a man with a dream. The way the film is set up, the viewer is forced to come to some sort of conclusion. Compton seems to want to get to the bottom of things. Depicts Haymour as he is. A divisive man. Shows that what is right and what is wrong is often not simple to identify.