Named after the nearby village of Gagetown, it is roughly egg-shaped, with the permanent campsite at the northern tip. About 3,000 soldiers are posted at the base, but the number of additional, temporary postings for combined arms (infantry, armour, artillery, air support) combat training varies greatly.
The base was constructed in the early 1950s when Canada's NATO commitments required a location large enough for training an entire division. The federal government chose this site partly to provide needed economic stimulus to central New Brunswick and because fewer than 3,000 people would be displaced in expropriating the land. Militarily it offered nearness to an all-weather Atlantic port and a varied terrain - including open lands similar to northern Europe, swamps, dense forest and high hills. American and British forces have also used the base.