Vakkosalmi park was established in 1870 upon the initiative of prominent personalities in Sortavala. Mr Berg, Mr Helsingius, Mr Hällström and Mr Relander, among others, were active in the establishment of the park. The Vakkosalmi park was important for cultural and recreational life in Sortavala. At its completion, it was Sortavala's largest and finest park and functioned equally as a tourist attraction and a pastime for residents. Events requiring plenty of space were often held in the park, particularly those involving music, due to the excellent acoustics of the site. For example, the national song festival organised in Sortavala were always held at Vuokkosalmi.
Grand events like the song festival naturally garnered the most attention, but still remained relatively rare. In the daily life of the town, the park functioned as a place of relaxation for the residents. It was criss-crossed with walking paths and other activities were also on offer depending on the season. In the summer, residents could play tennis or bowl on a track specifically constructed for the purpose. In winter, skiing tracks were available, and in the 1930s the park also featured a ski-jumping hill. In addition, several gazebos and kiosks were built in the area where visitors could have a rest and purchase refreshments. The Vakkosalmi park was known for its beauty, and it was a popular motif for postcards in Sortavala. The town administration was well aware of the natural attraction of parks and invested accordingly in their management. In 1916, a small Parks Committee was established to attend to the maintenance of parks, which in 1923 became the official Parks Council.