Stay Awhile: daughter makes doc about family band The Bells – Toronto Star, Nov. 26, 2014


Bob Carswell and Jaan Pill attended the April 24, 2015 Toronto premiere of “Stay Awhile”; it was a great occasion:

Stay Awhile – April 24, 2015 Toronto premiere of documentary about The Bells

Additional posts mentioning Jacki Ralph can be found at this link.

Jacki Ralph-Jamieson (MCHS ’62). The photo is from the 1961-62 MCHS yearbook.

I’m pleased to share with you the following earlier update from Bob Carswell, who has been in touch with Jacki Ralph-Jamieson recently:

“Hey Jaan, Here is something to promote. On Friday, April 24th at the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre, a documentary film produced by Jacki’s niece will be shown. It is titled STAY AWHILE. Ticket costs are $17 per person and the whole family, including Jacki will be there. Like me she has now hit 70 so time is moving on for her too.

[End of updates]

I’ve recently been working on the minutes for the Nov. 26, 2014 meeting in Kitchener of the MCHS 60s Reunion and Celebration and the 60s, where we had a brief discussion about the Montreal music group the Bells.

I did an online search, to make sure I had the spelling of the group right, and came across a great article in the Toronto Star, dated Nov. 26, 2014, entitled: “Stay Awhile: daughter makes doc about family band the Bells.

The subhead reads: “Toronto filmmaker Jessica Edwards’ documentary tells the story of parents Cliff and Ann Edwards and aunt Jacki Ralph-Jamieson, the lead singers in the Bells.”

Documentary about The Bells

The opening paragraphs read:

“The documentary Stay Awhile covers familiar pop band mythology in its story of the rise of early 1970s Canadian supergroup the Bells: the unexpected rush to fame, pressures, jealousy and breakups — both professional and personal.

“Except Stay Awhile, which has its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival Dec. 6, is also the story of Toronto filmmaker Jessica Edwards’ childhood.

“Her father, Cliff Edwards, mom Ann Edwards and aunt Jacki Ralph-Jamieson, Ann’s sister, all of whom take part in the documentary, were the group’s three lead singers.

“It’s a nostalgic look at a simpler time in pop music, told through the story of the soft-rock band whose most famous hit, the bedroom ballad “Stay Awhile,” featured a tremulous Jacki Ralph half-whispering, ‘how he makes me quiver . . .'”

[End of excerpt]

The Bells. We owe thanks to Bob Carswell for locating this image for us.

The Bells. We owe thanks to Bob Carswell for locating this image for us.

Stay Awhile on YouTube

You can watch The Bells – Stay Awhile 1973 (Full Album) on YouTube.

Mont Saint-Sauveur

I remember Jacki Ralph from the days she was a student at Malcolm Campbell High School. At our Nov. 26, 2014 60s Reunion meeting in Kitchener, Lynn Legge (Hennebury) mentioned that in the 60s when she used to go skiing at Mont Saint-Sauveur, “9 days out of 10,” the Bells would be performing at the Inn at Saint-Sauveur.

“That would be a group,” Lynn commented at our meeting, “that people would remember, because anybody who went up north skiing, always went to the Inn, and the Bells played there 9 days out of 10.”

Jacki Ralph

An additional reference to the Bells – or is it The Bells?; I’ve been going with the Bells because that’s the spelling in the Toronto Star article – can be found at a previous post:

Graeme Decarie has found his copy of the 1962-63 MCHS Highlander and shares additional recollections

Profile from 1961-62 MCHS yearbook:


Jacki’s sitting in a daze
And her face is all a-blaze.
Why’s her mind in such a blurr?
She’s just come back from St. Sauveur!

“Well, you know . . .” is one of Jacki’s favourite expressions. She is another of 310’s English “blokes” and has been in Canada a little over three years. It is easy to tell the land of her birth from her accent! Jacki has her sights set on a career as a Physical Edu­cation instructor; as her activities in sports indicate, she will have no difficulty in that department! Jacki is also part of the Ray Mart Trio, which is fast gaining fame in St. Laurent, and we wish her success in the future. Her sporting activities read like a book on the subject: Volleyball League 61-62, Basketball 60- 61, School Team Volleyball 60-62, Track and Field 60-61, Tennis 60-62, Prefect 60-62, Carrier Staff 61-62, Class Captain of the White House 61-62, Ski Club 61-62.

[End of profile from 1961-62 MCHS yearbook]

Order of Canada

An article highlighting Jacki Ralph-Jamieson’s Order of Canada award can be accessed here. The article notes: “Jacki Ralph Jamieson of North Vancouver, a three-time cancer survivor, has raised more than $800,000 for breast cancer research with In Between Dances, a CD featuring Canadian female vocalists.”

11 replies
  1. Lynn Berry
    Lynn Berry says:

    If I’m not mistaken, I thought one of the singers of The Bells also taught at Parkdale Elementary School on Deguire Street not far from Elmgrove School in St. Laurent.

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    That would be of interest, to know the details. If you find out more, please share with us what you learn. I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary.

  3. Bob Carswell
    Bob Carswell says:

    In the early 1960s, the Raymart Trio, to which I believe I have written something before, was a big thing at MCHS and a growing success in the St. Laurent area. I got to know both Marty Butler and Jackie Ralph back then and came in contact with each one of them later in life.

    When I moved to Toronto, I spent some time working with my brother on Avenue Road briefly. I could not miss Marty flock of red hair across the street one day and crossed to meet him. He was married, raising a family and selling real estate in Mississauga at that point, however, he had not left his music behind.
    Having produced at least one LP of which I have a copy in storage, he may have produced more. At that point he spent his evenings playing piano and singing at a hotel bar on Avenue Road. We caught up for a while and then parted ways only for me to learn that he had died of cancer sometime thereafter.

    My reconnection with Jacki Ralph came about under different circumstances. I was very involved with the Kin organization back then, 16,000 members strong in Canada. I eventually became governor of District Eight, a group of 72 clubs stretching from Wawa, Ontario, near the Manitoba border, to the Quebec border, having previously included Val DÒr just prior to my election. It was at my opening convention in Timmins, Ontario that I believe I met a young artist who eventually became known as Shenia Twain, then a teenager providing entertainment for the opening dance.

    It was at a Kin fundraising event in Mississauga that I met Jacki Ralph again. Her group was on the down-slide of her previous success and was part of a group of several bands put together to take advantage of smaller venues on the hockey rink circuit where a living could still be made from entertainment. Jacki looked a lot older then and the wrinkles of a hard demanding career showed in her face.

    We sat and talked for about half an hour that evening and that was the last time we connected. I heard she was back in Roxboro with her family at that point and then later learned she had moved to Vancouver having got married to a veterinarian. That was the last I had heard of her until today.

    Since my first year at MCHS was my fourth year in high school and I would be there another two without graduating, I was a bit older that most students. Having broken my neck one year and spent 6 weeks in hospital the next, the marks did not improve drastically. Finally two more years of winter and summer classes at Sir George Williams Evening High School got me into the university in 1965 at the age of 21.

    Spread over three years of day school and a lot of night classes plus the transfer of three credits from York University (excluding 3 years when I lived in western Canada), I was granted a Bachelor of Commerce in the last class of Sir George Williams University to graduate in 1974 along with the early Concordia graduates. I was 30 years old. That is what learning disabilities will do to a young guy.

    Today I have four degrees, an overcompensation perhaps, but then who ever said I did not want to keep learning things. Life is a journey and although mine almost ended this past January with a deteriorating remaining kidney a result of a doctor who over-prescribed drugs, I am back after ten days in hospital and a greatly reduced drug therapy program that seems to be working better. Kidney problems and organ malformations are another family curse along with diabetes and learning disabilities.

    No family is perfect, I guess. Jaan, when it comes to singing, former members of the MCHS school choir got together at the University of Quebec and recorded a version of the school song. An attempt was made to get it played at the 2000 reunion dance but the organizers did not get it done. I suggest that if you contact the producer again, you should be able to get a copy of it. I think you know who that was. It would be nice to hear it again at the next event.

  4. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    We all owe thanks to Tim Hewlings and the MCHS alumni who recorded the school song at MCHS 2000. The recording can be downloaded from the following post:

    With Pride We Wear the Scarlet and the Silver – Recorded at MCHS Reunion (2000)

    Life brings us challenges, no question. My own life story includes dealing with what was in my younger years a severe speech disability. During adolescence, at times I could not get out any words at all. Dealing with that taught me a few things, as life’s challenges have the capacity to do. In my case, what I learned enabled me to help others with the same disability. In time I also became a public school teacher, a line of work that would never have occurred to me – I would not have been able to imagine such a possibility – during the years I sat in a classroom as a student.

    For twenty-five years, before I moved on to other forms of volunteer work, my volunteer efforts, in Canada and elsewhere, were devoted to wide-scale, collaborative efforts helping people who stutter, and their parents, address this particular speech disability. Much of what little I know about organizing things, and getting things done in large-scale, multi-year projects, I learned during those twenty-five years.

    I also picked up a few insights along the way, and have met friends and colleagues around the world that I would otherwise never have met. From what I have learned, and from the resilience that I have developed, I feel a sense of gratitude that will always be a central part of my life, and of all of my work. One of the key things that I learned, as well, and unexpectedly, after many years of false leads, was the value of evidence-based practice in any line of endeavour.

    As we get older, those of us who were free of disabilities in our youth must, at times, address disabilities, whether minor or major, that in some cases accompany the process of growing older. Whatever experiences we have been through, there is value in sharing, with listeners who have in one way or another developed a capacity for empathy, what we have learned, and felt, along the way.

  5. Graeme Decarie
    Graeme Decarie says:

    It’s good to hear from Bob (and Jaan, of course). I last saw Bob at the 2000 reunion – and I’m glad to hear that things are looking up for him. I wonder, too, about his brother, Jim. The last time I saw him was in somebody’s kitchen.

    The talk of university strikes a blow to my heart. I have two sons in university, one at Concordia, one at St. Thomas. It’s incredibly expensive now. No wonder some people are paying off university loans into their retirement years. My only food shopping now is looking for discarded orange peel munchies on the sidewalks.

    But the greatest disability I suffer is looking out the window. It’s bloody snowing abloodygain. There are mountains of the stuff out there

    Oh, I don’t know whether I mentioned this before. I occasionally saw Jim McGowan, the phys ed teacher, over the years. It would always be in summer on his farm near Cowansville. The rest of the year, he was teaching in Japan. He died, suddenly, of a heart attack almost twenty years ago.


  6. Dan Germain
    Dan Germain says:

    I interviewed Jacki Ralph and Cliff Edwards when the Bells came through
    Saskatoon in the ’70s and I was a staff announcer at the local radio station. I have
    always wondered what became of each of them after the Bells and Cliff drifted off the
    airwaves by the mid-70s. I enjoyed the “Stay Awhile” documentary except for
    the treatment of Jacki at the end of the was as if she just simply walked
    away and wasn’t heard of again, until the making of the documentary.
    So, what happened to her when Cliff Edwards left the band ?

    It says her name now is Jacki Jamieson..when did she get married,..did she
    leave music eventually..what does she do now..from the reply notes I assume
    she lives in North Vancouver..whatever happened to her and the other band members..
    Does Jacki have children, etc ?

    It’s as if the doc. only concerned itself with what happened to Cliff and Ann
    at the end of the Bells. There’s a big hole missing in this story and we’d
    like to know more.

  7. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Good to read your message, Dan. I’m pleased that Jacki found her way back to everyday civilian life away from the spotlight. I will check to see, in the event there may be anything to add, to a wonderful story about Jacki, a great student from Malcolm Campbell High School.

  8. Kiks panganiban
    Kiks panganiban says:

    Im a Filipino and we are fond of listening English Music also. The band group called The Bells popularize the song entitled Stay While in early 70s in Manila Philippines. The song Stay Awhile is being played in a Discoteque House when the guests wants a Sweet Dance. I read in one of the write up that the lady singer of The Bells Jackie Ralph suggested the she will sing the song like a young teens.The rest of the band agreed. Im now 69 years old and i have in my collection of songs and one of them is Stay Awhile😁.. Regards to all..

    • Jaan Pill
      Jaan Pill says:

      Wonderful to read your message, Kiks. Music, as it is often said, is a universal language. It travels everywhere. I much enjoyed reading your comment about early 70s Manila. I am pleased that music that The Bells recorded is still being enjoyed by so many people, even these many years later.

  9. Neal
    Neal says:

    I was 15 and a sophomore in high school when “Stay Awhile” came out. This song always brings back a flood of memories for me and almost always causes a tear or two thinking about those days so long ago. Such a beautiful song. Thank you.

    • Jaan Pill
      Jaan Pill says:

      We are speaking for sure about the power of music. Thank you for sharing your reflections about the song. This post about The Bells has given rise to many good memories which I am happy site visitors have shared through their comments.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *