DUC is heir to one of the oldest university models that originated in Western culture. Born in the first part of the thirteenth century, at the same time as the institution of the university itself, the studium generale was a center of intellectual life, specializing most often in philosophy
This model of studium generale was adopted by the Order of Preachers (later known as Dominicans), founded by Domingo de Guzmán in 1215. Established in Paris in 1229, the first studium generale of the Order, where Thomas Aquinas himself received his basic formation in philosophy and theology, was followed by four others in 1245, in Cologne (Germany), Bologna (Italy), Oxford (England) and Montpellier (France). Inheriting this long and rich intellectual tradition, the model has always been maintained by the Order throughout the centuries. In Canada, the institutional center of studies of the Order was established in Ottawa in 1900 and was officially recognized as studium generale ten years later.
DUC is housed in a grey stone heritage building, the Saint Jean-Baptiste Dominican convent, with its own church of the same name. Although it seems hard to believe it now but the formidable structure, proudly perched on top of Primrose hill, overlooking LeBreton Flats, was not always as invincible as it may appear at first sight. On the terrible night of February 8, 1931, fire destroyed St. Jean-Baptiste church and a part of the west wing of the old convent. A year later, on Easter of 1932, the newly rebuilt convent and church were officially inaugurated.