Signal Brewery's Heritage
Corbyville a town built around spirits
Corby officially employed 179 workers
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.
Proudly found in the historic Corbyville distillery district, Signal Brewing Company is keeping the heritage of its buildings alive with great beer and world class entertainment. Our beer is made with love, thought and passion and our food promotes farm to table values. We believe in bringing the community together, which is reflected in our communal seating plan. With a rustic interior using antique décor back from the Corbyville days and a huge patio right on the Moira River. We offer a unique experience and an amazing view, while keeping the past in mind.
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. After a military service in the 1837 rebellion and the loss of his wife and two out of three of his children, he sold his bakery and bought a St. Lawrence steamliner. He worked as a grain merchant for four years, traveling from Belleville to Kingston.
Henry Corby’s involvement in buying and selling grain led to him purchasing 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 Harry, took over the business and invested in it substantially, moving it into the retail trade and setting up a bottle shop in Belleville.
When Henry Sr.'s health rapidly declined, he sold the distillery, the mills, and a wine importing business to his son for $10,000. Henry Sr. passed away in 1881, but It was Henry Jr.’s modernization of the business that helped it attain a prominent position in the distilling industry around the world.
In 1918 following World War 1, Corby’s distillery partnered with J.P. Wiser’s
It wasn't until 1989, after 132 years in business, that the distillery in Corbyville closed its doors and all maturing whisky inventory was transferred to the Hiram Walker facility in Windsor, Ont.
The plant officially closed in 1991 and 179 workers were out of a job. For years, the site had been an employer for hundreds of people, some of which had multiple family generations working there.
The property was left abandoned for almost 25 years, until Signal Brewing Company began restoring the old buildings, opening a craft beer business, restaurant and event venue.