Saskatoon typewriter repairman receives personal letter from Tom Hanks

One of the continent’s few remaining typewriter repairmen had a brush with celebrity this week when he received a very special letter.

On Tuesday, Saskatoon’s Thom Cholowski was surprised to find a letter in his mailbox from actor Tom Hanks. Cholowski had written to the actor thanking him for his work as the “celebrity face” of the typewriter collector community.

“I was shocked, surprised,” Cholowski said of the response.

“It was a very personal letter and, yeah, I was very humbled.”

Hanks’s love for old typewriters was showcased in the 2016 documentary California Typewriter. The film talks to notable people who love typewriters and, according to Cholowski, helped spark a resurgence in interest in the machines.

“Especially with COVID, there’s been a tremendous increase in interest in people seeking out my services,” he said.

“I just wanted to drop him a note to say thank you very much and let him know the impact that his film and his work has had on my life.”


Cholowski got into the typewriter repair business after coming across a rare telegrapher’s typewriter once used by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Word got around that he knew what he was doing and it turned into a side business.

In the letter, Hanks thanked Cholowski and promised to send him an old typewriter.

“What a privilege it is to type a letter to Western Canada’s premiere typewriter repairman — a fellow who is doing God’s labour,” read the letter.

He also promised to stop by if he’s ever in town.

“I know that the next time (or first time) I am in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I’ll be darkening your door,” wrote Hanks.

“If only to smell the lubricant of a well-furnished machine, no matter the language…braille or Native Canadian Cree!”

Thom Cholowski says one of his pet peeves is when people take the keys from old typewriters and make jewellery out of them. (Soul Paper/Facebook)

Cholowski plans to frame the letter and hang it up in his office.

He said his love for typewriters isn’t going anywhere.

“It’s very much a disconnect and a way to unplug from the modern world,” he said.

“It’s very personal. You sit down at the typewriter and you create something.”

Hanks was last spotted in the province at the 2013 Grey Cup, where he cheered for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

A shared love of typewriters has connected a typewriter repairman in Saskatoon with Hollywood actor and typewriter collector: Tom Hanks. Guest host Jennifer Quesnel finds out how guest Thom Cholowski and Tom Hanks connected, and why typewriters are seeing a comeback. 5:01

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