Corbyville is a town built around spirits, and the history begins in the early Canadian frontier, when whisky was as much a part of daily life as bread and meat.
The town’s patriarch, Henry Corby was a baker by trade. In the early 1830s he moved to Belleville and opened one of the first bakeries in Belleville to great success. It was known for years as the premiere bakery in Belleville. After a military service in the 1837 rebellion, he sold his bakery and bought a St. Lawrence steamliner.
Henry Corby’s involvement in buying and selling grain led to establish a gristmill in what is now Corbyville. At his new mill, farmers would bring their grain to be ground into meal and would reserve a portion of it to be made into whisky. This sparked Henry Corby’s interest in the distilling process. He was soon making his own whisky for local consumption as a sideline to the main milling operation. By 1859, the distillery operation was incorporated, known as “Alma Mills” for his late first wife Alma and it quickly began to eclipse the mill operations.
When Henry Corby went to pursue a career in politics (Belleville Mayor 1867-68) his son Henry Jr., known as Harry, took over the business and invested substantially in the business and moved it into the retail trade, setting up a bottle shop in Belleville.