Sutherland was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, the son of Dorothy Isobel (née McNichol; 1892–1956) and Frederick McLea Sutherland (1894–1983), who worked in sales and ran the local gas, electricity, and bus company. He spent most of his childhood in Hampton, New Brunswick, along the Kennebecasis River. His teenage years were spent in Nova Scotia. He got his first part time job at age 14 as a news correspondent for local radio station CKBW in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. He then studied at Victoria College, University of Toronto, where he met his first wife Lois Hardwick (not the child star of the same name), and graduated with a double major in engineering and drama. He had at one point been a member of the "UC Follies" comedy troupe in Toronto. He changed his mind about becoming an engineer, and subsequently left Canada for England to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.the early-to-mid-1960s, Sutherland began to get small parts in British films and TV, landing notable roles in horror films with Christopher Lee, such as Castle of the Living Dead (1964) and Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) and twice appearing in The Saint, firstly in the 1965 episode "The Happy Suicide" and then, more auspiciously, in a story called "Escape Route" at the end of 1966. The episode was directed by the show's star, Roger Moore, who later recalled that Sutherland "asked me if he could show it to some producers as he was up for an important part... they came to view a rough cut at the studio and he got The Dirty Dozen. Thus, Sutherland was on course for the first of the three war films which would be his initial great successes: The Dirty Dozen in 1967, with Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson; in 1970, as the lead "Hawkeye" Pierce in Robert Altman's MASH; and, again in 1970, as tank commander Sgt. Oddball in Kelly's Heroes, with Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas. During his time in England Sutherland also appeared in The Avengers in 1967, in an episode titled "The Superlative Seven."Sutherland was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on 18 December 1978 and was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2000. He maintains a home in Georgeville, in Quebec's Eastern Townships. Sutherland was a major fan of the Montreal Expos.
Son Kiefer Sutherland, an actor best known for his role as Jack Bauer on the TV action/thriller series 24, and his twin sister, Rachel, were born to Donald Sutherland and his second wife, Shirley Douglas, daughter of politician Tommy Douglas.
Donald Sutherland met his current wife, French-Canadian actress Francine Racette, on the set of the Canadian pioneer drama Alien Thunder. They have three sons, including actor Rossif Sutherland, Angus Sutherland, and Roeg Sutherland.
Sutherland became a blogger for the American news website The Huffington Post during the 2008 election campaign.1978: Order of Canada
1983: 4th Genie Awards, winner, Best Actor, Threshold
1995: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Miniseries or a Movie, Citizen X
1995: Golden Globe Award, winner, Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film, Citizen X
1998: Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Drama, Without Limits
2000: Canada's Walk of Fame
2002: Golden Globe Award, winner, Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film, Path to War
2008: honorary Doctor of Letters (Humanities), Lakehead University
2011: Hollywood Walk Of Fame.