He served on the public school board from 1902 until 1904. He first sought municipal office in 1907, when he was elected to a two year term as alderman on Edmonton City Council, finishing fourth of twelve candidates in an election in which the top five candidates were elected. He resigned midway through his term to run for mayor in the 1908 election, when he defeated Thomas Bellamy by 1303 votes to 639.
He was re-elected in 1909, defeating Robert Manson, but did not seek re-election in 1910 and stayed out of municipal politics thereafter.
In 1905 he erected the Lee Block on the corner of Jasper Avenue and Second Street (102 Street). The building housed, among other businesses, Reed"s Bazaar.
lieutenant was destroyed by fire in 1913 but a reconstruction of the building now stands at Fort Edmonton Park. Robert Lee died August 5, 1925.
He served as a member of the Lanark City Council from 1892 until 1898, after which he moved to Edmonton.