Jason Lee, missionary and pioneer, was born on a farm near Stanstead, Quebec, on June 28, 1803. He attended the village school and by the age of 13 was self supporting. After a conversion experience, he attended Wilbraham Academy, graduating in 1830. Between 1830 and 1832 he was minister in the Stanstead area and taught school.
In 1833, Lee was chosen to head a mission for the Flatland Indians. He and his party traveled overland, arriving in Fort Vancouver in 1834. After the site of their first mission was abandoned as unhealthy, the missionaries settled on the Willamette River, northwest of the present site of Salem, Oregon. In 1836 and 1837 he helped to draft a petition for the establishment of a territorial government, and in 1838 he journeyed east to present the petition in Washington.
Lee continued to found missions during the 1830s and became increasingly active in the territorial organization of the Oregon settlement, encouraging its ties with the United States. He presided over the preliminary meeting for territorial organization held at Champoeg in 1841, and in 1843 he was instrumental in the formation of a provisional government. He also worked to promote education and formed the plan that resulted in the founding of Oregon Institute (now Willamette University). Problems with the mission led to his return to headquarters in New York in 1844.
While he was visiting his sister in Stanstead, his health failed; he died on March 12, 1845. His remains were reinterred in Salem, Oregon, in 1906.